Football or Soccer is a global phenomenon; a uniting force and language for all races, gender, socio-economic and socio-cultural classes, religious inclinations, and age ranges. It is a well understood language, spoken without words but sheer demonstration of athleticism, creativity, brilliance, intelligence, bravery, perseverance. A sport characterized with a mixture of euphoric sensations; sweat, blood, joy and tears. It crosses boundaries, cities, countries and whole continents.
Now, just as the American continents have the Copa America and Europe has the European Cup, so also does Africa have its own football tournament; The tournament referred to as The CAF Africa Cup of Nations, or officially CAN or Coupe d’Afrique des Nations (in French); also referred to as AFCON, or Total Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons. It is the main international association football competition in Africa and it is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The tournament was first held in 1957 and since the 1968 edition, it has been held every two years.
Since its inception, 14 different countries have won the prestigious tournament in its 31 already played editions. With Nigeria being labelled the Giant of Africa, it is expected that the country should be up there in the list of winners, possibly, a multiplicity of times. But do you know how many times the Super Eagles have won the African Cup of Nations?
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have won the competition three times. Whether that should be deemed impressive or as a colossal failure of the Super Eagles on the Continental event is entirely up for a different debate. The Eagles are three-time Africa Cup of Nations winners, with their most recent title in 2013, after defeating Burkina Faso in the final, under the management of Stephen Okechukwu Keshi.
In addition, did you also know that?
- Prior to independence in 1960, the Nigerian National football team were called the Red Devils due to their red topped kits. But the name was changed to the Green Eagles after independence in reference to the Nigerian state flag as well as the eagle which adorns the country’s coat of arms.
- During the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations, they were still called the Green Eagles, but following their controversial loss in the final, the team’s name was changed to the “Super Eagles”.
- At the moment, only the senior men’s national team uses the nickname ‘Super Eagles’. The women’s national team is called the “Super Falcons”, and Nigeria’s underage male teams are nicknamed the “Flying Eagles” & the “Golden Eaglets”.
- In April 1994, the Super Eagles were ranked 5th in the FIFA rankings, the highest FIFA ranking position ever achieved by an African football team.
- Throughout history, the team has qualified for six of the last seven FIFA World Cups (as of 2018), missing only the 2006 edition and have reached the round of 16 three times. Their first World Cup appearance was the 1994 edition.
For the records of the AFCON, Egypt has been the most successful nation in the cup’s history, winning the tournament a record of seven times (including when Egypt was known as the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961). Three different trophies have been awarded during the tournament’s history, with Ghana and Cameroon winning the first two versions to keep after each of them won a tournament three times. The current trophy was first awarded in 2002 and with Egypt winning it indefinitely after winning their unprecedented third consecutive title in 2010. As of 2013, the tournament was switched to being held in odd-numbered years so as not to clash with the FIFA World Cup.