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African Cup of Nations Timeline of changes to AFCON

This is the timeline of the changes AFCON has gone through since its inception in 1957.

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African Cup of Nations (AFCON) play Timeline of changes in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) are set to vote for changes to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

CAF have proposed to increase the teams from 16 to 24, making it every four years and shifting the tournament from January, February to June/July.

These proposals were made at the two-day two-day African Football Symposium which kicked off on Tuesday, July 18.

2017 African Football Symposium play

2017 African Football Symposium


ALSO READ: CAF to vote new changes to AFCON

The proposals are set to be made official at CAF Extra-Ordinary Assembly in Rabat, Morocco on Friday, July 21.

Ahead of the official announcement of the changes, we take a look at the timeline of the changes AFCON has undergone in its history.

1957: Four teams in its inaugural edition

The first AFCON held in 1957 after it was created at the third FIFA Congress in June 1956 in Lisbon.

Four teams were supposed to compete in the inaugural edition Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and South Africa. South Africa were however disqualified upon their insistence on selecting only white players for the tournament.

There was no qualification for the tournament that was hosted by Sudan. Only two games were played as Ethiopia had a straight path to the final with South Africa disqualified.  

1962: Nine teams qualification round

A qualification round was added in 1962 to determine the four teams that will play in the main tournament.

1968: Limit to foreign-based players

CAF set a limit to the number of foreign-based players in each team to two in 1968.

1968: AFCON teams increased to eight

Eight teams competed in the 1968 edition with 22 teams entering the qualification round. The eight teams that qualified were divided into two groups. The four teams in a group played single round-robin tournaments with the top two teams in each group advancing to semi-finals.

1968: AFCON regularly played every two years from this year

From the 1968 tournament, the competition has been regularly held every two years in even numbered years.

1970: First televised tournament

The 1970 AFCON was the first televised edition.

1982: End to limit of foreign-based players

Opening ceremony of the 13th African Cup of Nations, which were held in Libya in 1982 play Opening ceremony of the 13th African Cup of Nations, which were held in Libya in 1982 (Peter Robinson - EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)


In 1968, there was a limit to the number of foreign-based players which ended in 1982.

1992: AFCON teams increased from eight to 12

The 1992 Cup of Nations expanded the number of final tournament team to 12; four groups were created with the 12 teams-three teams for each group-from which the top two countries advance to quarter-finals.

1996: AFCON teams increased to 16

The current 16-team format started in 1996. 15 teams, however, competed in the final in South Africa following the last minute withdrawal of Nigeria from the tournament for political reasons.

2013: Switch to odd-numbered year

Elderson Echiejile play The 2013 edition which Nigeria won was the start of the AFCON in odd-numbered years (Getty Images)


First AFCON in odd-numbered year was played in South Africa in 2013. The change was to stop AFCON tournaments in FIFA World Cup years.

The change also meant that they would be two tournaments in 12 months- January 2012 and January 2013.

2017: AFCON teams increased to 24

The AFCON teams have been increased  from 16 to 24 teams, adding two more groups with some of the top losers from all group progressing to the round of 16 which has been added with the new change.

2017: Switched to June/July

AFCon from 2019 will be played in the summer, June/July in line with Europe football caldender.

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