Ahead of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations kicking off on Saturday, let’s looks over some of the tournament’s most interesting stats.
1 – team will be making their Cup of Nations debut in this year’s edition: Guinea-Bissau. That reduces to 15 the number of African countries never to have been represented at their continent’s showpiece tournament. Guinea-Bissau will certainly enjoy their long-awaited moment in the sun, although odds will be long on them becoming the first debutants since South Africa in 1996 to claim the title.
2 – men won the tournament as both player and coach: Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary (1959 and 1998) and the late Stephen Keshi of Nigeria (1994 and 2013).
3 – final defeats in succession is the run that Ghana will be looking to end in Gabon. The Black Stars have been beaten in each of their last three appearances in the decider, losing out to Côte d’Ivoire in 1992, Egypt in 2010 and the Ivorians again in 2015. Ghana, who have competed in nine Cup of Nations finals – more than any other nation – last won the African title back in 1982.
3 – Cup of Nations titles is a haul to which only two coaches in the tournament’s history can lay claim: Ghana’s Charles Gyamfi (1963, 1965, 1982) and Hassan Shehata of Egypt (2006, 2008, 2010). Morocco coach Herve Renard is aiming to become the third, and the Frenchman is already the only coach to have won the title with different nations, having lifted the trophy with Zambia in 2012 and Côte d’Ivoire in 2015. To make fresh history, however, Renard will need to end the Moroccans’ 41-year wait since their solitary Cup of Nations success in 1976.
3 – teams have managed to win consecutive Cup of Nations titles: Ghana (1963, 1965), Cameroon (2000, 2002) and Egypt (2006, 2008, 2010). Côte d’Ivoire are bidding to become the fourth, having edged Ghana 9-8 in that mammoth penalty shoot-out in the 2015 final. Les Elephants have reached three Cup of Nations finals since the turn of the century and all three have been settled by spot kicks.
5 – is the number of goals that Laurent Pokou scored in a single game for Côte d’Ivoire when they romped to a 6-1 win over Ethiopia at the 1970 finals, hosted in Sudan. It is a record now more than four decades old and one rarely threatened. The same game also holds the record for the biggest margin of victory at a Cup of Nations match.
7 – Cup of Nations titles is the record tally held by Egypt. Ghana and Cameroon are the Pharaohs’ closest rivals in the all-time standings, with four championships apiece.
9 – is the biggest number of goals that have been scored in a single Cup of Nations match, when Egypt beat Nigeria 6-3 in the 1963 finals in Ghana. Hassan Shazli netted four times and Ibrahim Reda got the other two for the Pharaohs in Kumasi. Egypt were 4-0 ahead at half-time and the next five goals came in the final 12 minutes of the match.
9 – host nations have previously lifted the trophy: Ethiopia (1962), Ghana (1963), Sudan (1970), Ghana (1978), Nigeria (1980), Egypt (1986, 2006), Algeria (1990), South Africa (1996) and Tunisia (2004). Gabon, who are staging the tournament for the second time – having co-hosted with Equatorial Guinea in 2012 – are aiming to make that ten, but have never before made it past the quarter-finals.
18 – Cup of Nations goals is the haul that established Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o as the tournament’s all-time leading scorer. Ivorian Laurent Pokou follows with 14 goals, while Nigerian icon Rashidi Yekini sits third with 13.
19 – matches, stretched over 13 years, is the record unbeaten run Egypt will be protecting on their return to the Cup of Nations. The Pharaohs, who failed to qualify for each of the last three editions, have not been beaten at the finals since a 2-1 reverse to Algeria in 2004. This was also the last African finals they competed in and failed to win. Egypt have won all nine of their most recent matches at the Cup of Nations and kept clean sheets in four of their last five.
23 – seconds is all it took Ayman Mansour of Egypt to score the quickest goal in the history of the tournament when Egypt played against Gabon on a bitterly cold night at the El Menzah Stadium in Tunis during the 1994 finals.
36 – is the record number of games Rigobert Song played for Cameroon at eight different finals between 1996 and 2010. His record of eight different finals tournament appearances is shared with Ahmed Hassan, although the Egyptian was only a squad member in 1996 and did not play.
90 – is the record number of matches that Egypt have played at the Cup of Nations. They have also won the most number of games at the tournament (51) and scored the most goals (154).
99 – is the number of goals that were scored at the finals in Ghana in 2008 in a total of 32 games, which is the record tally for a tournament. At the last finals in Equatorial Guinea, the total was 68.