BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The Africa Cup of Nations holding in Cote d’Ivoire in January is the 34th edition and marks the second time the competition will hold in that country. Cote d’Ivoire last hosted the competition in 1984.
CHANGING FACES OF AFCON
It is the third edition to feature a 24-team format. The competition at the beginning in 1957 had irregular format. Three countries were in attendance at the inaugural edition in 1957 and that of 1959.
It increased to four in 1952 and six in 1963. From 1968 in Ethiopia to 1990 in Algeria, an eight-team format became the tradition.
The edition in Senegal in 1992 began a 12-team format which ended at the following edition in Tunisia 1994. The 1996 edition saw the introduction of a 16-team format, although 15 featured following the withdrawal of Nigeria.
The 16-team format ran till Gabon 2017. Since Egypt 2019, it has been a 24-team fiesta.
From Ethiopia 1968 edition, the competition attained a regular interval of two years and in the even-numbered years.
SWITCH TO ODD NUMBERED YEARS
However, CAF decided to abandoned the even-numbered year tournament for an odd-numbered one in 2013, hence, there was a back-to-back edition of 2012 and 2013. Before 2013, the last time the competition held in an odd-numbered year was Tunisia 1965.
The essence of switching to odd-numbered years was to avoid holding any edition in the same year as the FIFA World Cup. Ten years on, the calendar for the competition had not taken any definite pattern. The 2021 edition was held in 2022 just as the 2023 edition will hold in 2024.
The calendar is expected to be normalised with Morocco 2025 – Again as in 2012 and 2013, the competition will be held in back-to-back years.
HOST NATIONS JINXED
For 17 years and spanning eight editions, hosts countries have not won the Africa Cup of Nations. The last hosts to win were the Egyptians in 2006. When they hosted again in 2019, they did not even get podium finish.
If it is stretched back to 1992, a period of 31 years and 16 editions, only three host nations have won – South Africa 1996, Tunisia 2004 and Egypt 2006.