The Africa Cup of Nations
It is now the 3rd world football competition in terms of its cumulative TV audience, coming after the FIFA World Cup and the European Nations Championship (Euro).
The Africa Cup of Nations holds every two years. The number of participants at the final phase, which is ever increasing, is 16 since 1996.
The first edition was played in 1957 avec countries competing: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa. The latter was later on disqualified due to the politics of racial segregation – known as apartheid that was going on in the country. In fact South Africa refused to send a multiracial team the competition, and was excluded. This directly qualified Ethiopia for the finals where she was beaten by Egypt, which won over Sudan at the semi-finals. This first final of the Africa Cup of Nations, which ended in 4-0 for Egypt was played on Saturday 16th February 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan.
The tournament was divided into two phases: the qualification phase and the finals phase. The qualification phase was played following a system of direct elimination, with away and return leg matches.
The qualification phase became a mixt phase following an addition of a pool system to the direct elimination system. The number of participants, which was eight (8) in 1986, rose to twelve (12).
The number of participants at the finals went from 12 to 16 with the return of South Africa into the family of African football, which was also the host country.
The number of participating teams will rise to 24. The date time is shifted to see the tournament played in June - July Calendar.