2022 was certainly an exciting year in sports as the world seemed to get back on track after the previous two years of health “issues,” which we all would rather forget.
One of the more unique events was the 2021 AFCON which took place in 2022 and turned out to be a success that sparked an increasing interest in hungry-for-sports Europe, and not only in the African diaspora and expat circles.
A recent decision by AFCON organizers to expand from 16 teams to 24 beginning in 2019 has considerably increased the games’ followers and fans. Not surprisingly, a team always means a country, not just a football club. In essence, each team represents a nation with all its built-in highly partisan fans, each with strong patriotic fervor around the world.
The support was evident by leading sportsbook platform betway, with the tournament sparking quite an interest in fans from their main website to betway’s sports betting Zambia platform.
Egypt has been the highest decorated team in the AFCON since the league’s founding in 1957, with seven titles proudly held on to by the Egyptian Eagle.
The Central African country of Cameroon comes next with 6, winning the 2021 cup, followed by Ghana 4 and Nigeria 3. The Ivory Coast, Algeria, and DR Congo have won the title at least twice, while Zambia, Tunisia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa, and the Republic of Congo have won once.
The absence of a dominant team bodes well for the league. Every team thinks its turn to shine will happen any time soon.
Many fans are watching AFCON games from their respective home countries and across the globe, where many African players have been recognized for their football skills and talent.
In London, a city famous for its multicultural diversities and arguably the seat of global football, fans unable to watch the games on TV can quickly turn to their gadgets to monitor developments or get on their phones to access live streaming on an online platform. Teams with African players in their lineup are trendy among young and old expats.
Since its founding and development as a major football league in the African continent, many European leagues, including the prestigious English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, and the Germany Bundesliga, have been keenly monitoring developments in AFCON.
On a positive note, AFCON makes a good recruitment pool for European leagues. On the flip side, however, AFCON is also a cause for concern among some European clubs. Some of these clubs lose a number of their key players in the middle of the season when African players decide they would rather play for their respective national teams in the biennial AFCON event.
Various European clubs have contracted more than 500 African players. This number constitutes the finest players in Africa, representing six percent of European professional footballers. Aside from Europe, some AFCON players are also based in the United States, China, South Korea, India, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
This presents a biennial conflict for clubs in Europe, which understandably prefer to keep their players to continue competing in cup and league competitions. On the other hand, AFCON has already proved their willingness, regardless of how difficult it is, by altering their schedules to accommodate the Olympics, World Cup, and Euro leagues in 2022.
The unselfish accommodation is working very well, with the AFCON tournament proceeding smoothly as planned, with hardly any complaints from the European side.
The 2023 AFCON is still TBD, but rest assured, Seven-time champion Egypt and six-time title holder Cameroon are still in the hunt for the prestigious African Cup. Still, the untitled countries are hungrier than ever to win it.
Regardless of the outcome, it looks like another banner year for the African Cup of Nations.