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SportAFCON: Africa's grandest football spectacle kicks off

AFCON: Africa’s grandest football spectacle kicks off

Football enthusiasts across the continent are eagerly counting down the hours to the highly anticipated TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), scheduled to commence this weekend. The prestigious tournament, set to be hosted by Cote d’Ivoire for the second time, promises to deliver captivating matches that will leave fans on the edge of their seats.

The opening match is set to take place on January 13th, featuring Côte d’Ivoire against Guinea-Bissau at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

The knockout rounds are scheduled to commence on January 27th, with the quarter-finals being held on February 2-3 at the iconic Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium. The semifinals will take place on February 7th, with one match being held at Bouake and the other at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. These matches will determine the finalists who will compete for a spot in the finals.

A match for the third-place position will be held on February 10th at the Felix stadium, while the highly anticipated finals will take place on February 12th.

With a rich history and a reputation for showcasing African football excellence, the AFCON is an event that should not be overlooked.

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As the most esteemed football event on the African continent, the AFCON has a storied past dating back to its inaugural edition in 1957. Back then, only three nations—Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia—participated in the tournament.

Since then, the AFCON has evolved into a thrilling competition, becoming a platform to showcase the immense talent and passion for the sport across Africa.

Egypt, a football powerhouse, holds an impressive record of winning the AFCON title seven times, making them the most successful team in the tournament’s history. Their dominance in the early years, clinching victory in the first two editions in 1957 and 1959, paved the way for their enduring football legacy.

Close on their heels is Cameroon, with an impressive five titles to their name. Ghana, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also made indelible marks on the tournament, emerging as formidable forces with multiple victories.

Cote d’Ivoire, the host nation, is no stranger to the AFCON. Having previously hosted the tournament in 1984, they eagerly prepare to welcome the continents footballing hopefuls once again, ready to showcase their vibrant culture and passionate football fans.

The host’s national team, known as the Elephants, have reached the finals on four occasions but has faced an unusual anomaly. In each of their final appearances spanning from 1992 to 2015, they failed to score a single goal during regulation time, resulting in penalty shootout victories in 1992 and 2015, as well as heart-breaking losses in 2006 and 2012.

Throughout the tournament’s history, legendary players have graced the stage, etching their names in the annals of AFCON folklore.

Among them is Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, a towering figure who stands as the all-time leading scorer. With an impressive tally of 18 goals across six editions of the competition, Eto’o’s clinical finishing and sheer talent illuminated the AFCON, leaving an enduring legacy for future generations.

The competition has also witnessed remarkable records and milestones. From Egypt’s Essam el Hadary, who became the oldest player to feature in the tournament at the age of 44, to the thrilling encounters that have unfolded in the opening matches, the AFCON consistently delivers unforgettable moments that etch themselves into the memories of fans.

Since expanding to 24 teams in 2019, the AFCON has become even more inclusive, providing an opportunity for a greater number of nations to showcase their footballing prowess. This expansion has injected more competition into the tournament.

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