The Africa Cup of Nations competition (AFCON) is presently the most talked about event on the globe. As it stands, the intensity and competitiveness remain unhooked from the eyes of football-loving fans. Contrary to negative expectations from detractors, the AFCON has served every piece of dramatic glee and momentary euphoric sense.
The main international men’s association football competition in Africa, since its inception in 1957, the tournament has produced and advertised raw and local talents to the suitability of the international space. Players of grassroots or community football environments see it as an opportunity to be recognized by scouting networks based in Europe and beyond by giving out a phenomenal performance and impression. Egypt, the most successful team in the competition, won an unprecedented three consecutive titles in 2006, 2008, and 2010. The current champions are the Fennecs of Algeria.
Easily recognized for its amplified trombone rhythms from the spectators, the comically entertaining but majestic goal celebrations, and a unique sense of traditional regalia symbolizing an act of national representation, we bring you five (5) reasons why the African Cup of Nations is the best continental tournament in the world:
1) ADORINGLY REPLICATIVE OF EVERY AFRICAN’S ROOTS AND HERITAGE – The colorful ordinance which shone forth at the opening day ceremony at Yaoundé, Cameroon, was enough to explain the exquisite beauty of Africa. But, most importantly, we are burying our focus on the connectivity and grandeur of celebrations visualized. Now, if a supporter, for instance, wears an edified Kente football jersey to the AFCON, you can say the culture isn’t strange to a Beninese or a Nigerian because we all love the Kente fashion. Furthermore, the high-level celebrating scoring moments have been a sensation. Unlike cliches of likely scoring stunts in other international competitions, you don’t know what to expect. Alhaji Kamara’s “lion celebration” after he scored the equalizer for Sierra Leone against Algeria was passionate. Historically referencing, Asamoah Gyan’s stylish goal celebrations were a thing to watch. Additionally, the fan bases are wild and native. Sierra Leonean fans express joy over goal celebrations by clashing together pot covers to give a metallic rage. Countries like Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and many more, do the same by accompanying the trombone and trumpets with danceable patterns and tunes often depicting gospel songs or music eulogizing their players.
2) A WELCOMING FORTITUDE FOR PLAYERS – The atmosphere is fitting for every player in the competition. Africans are pretty humble and appreciative. Thus, when players (some who are second options in their respective teams at the international scene), return home to grace the tournament, they are met with resounding favor and goodwill from the fans. This is contrary to European players who are mostly racially abused when they fail to deliver. It happened with Rashford, Sterling, and Saka, who were blamed for England’s inability to win the Euro trophy. I am sure their presence would have been highly receptive, had they been Africans. The Stallions of Burkina Faso see Bertrand Traoré as their revered player, therefore, he is given a lot of responsibility to carry the team. The Pharaohs of Egypt see a savior in Mohamed Salah.
3) WOMEN ARE TAKING THE LEAD TOO – Contrary to unfortunate citing on the rate of women inequality in the continent, the AFCON tournament has helped distinguish facts from fiction. For the first time in the continent’s tournament, we are having to see a female referee take a lead in officiating an international match. Salima Mukansanga, a Rwandan national, will be a central referee in this year’s AFCON tournament. She is also joined by Moroccans Bachra Karoubi and Fatiha Jermoumi, Cameroonian Carine Atemzabong — although only Mukansanga has been designated as a primary referee. It is not often we see women refereeing men’s football, especially delegating primary and crucial responsibilities to them. Stephanie Frappart only went as far as being a fourth official in the Euro championship.
4) UNPREDICTABLE AND HIGHLY COMPETITIVE – The AFCON tournament has a penchant for being uncannily predictable and competitive. Take a look at this: San Marino is likely to sink when they encounter Portugal. It is just a definite state of possibility. One can reassuringly place a bet on Germany against Luxembourg because we all know what the outcome will be; a thorough thumping. The AFCON is a different ballgame. There are no underdogs. The defending champion, Algeria, is currently sitting bottom of the Group E table. They have had two upsetting matches against teams that were perceived to be underdogs: Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea. They had a frustrating draw against the latter and a shocking defeat to the former. Sierra Leone, a side deemed as the weaker one, made a strong impression against the Ivorian side yesterday.
An unexpected turnout. Furthermore, it was their goalkeeper who hails from the country’s local football league that outclassed the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani for the man of the match award. Ghana, the second most ranked team in Group C, is having a tough time. They can only boast of a single point after two games. The Gambia, the newcomers and least ranked team in the table, are establishing themselves as group leaders amidst Mali, Tunisia, and Mauritania who are better rated. The unpredictability and competitive nature qualify the competition as the best.
5) THE VALUABLE NATURE OF THE TROPHY – The AFCON trophy is the most expensive continental trophy in football. The piece of feat made in 2000 is fully capacitated in gold-plated finishing. It was designed in Italy. It has a whopping worth of $150,000 and more than triples the combined collection of Copa America and UEFA Euro trophies. The prospective champions would have a perfect masterpiece in their cabinet.