Nigeria’s Super Eagles take on hosts Côte d’Ivoire on Sunday, aiming to create history by becoming only the third team to defeat an AFCON host in the final. This year’s final marks their second clash with the Elephants, having already secured a 1-0 victory in the group stage.
To lift their fourth AFCON trophy, the Super Eagles must follow in the footsteps of Ghana and Cameroon, the only two teams to achieve this feat. In 1982, Ghana defeated Libya on penalties after a 2-2 draw, while Cameroon replicated the feat in 2000, overcoming Nigeria 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Historically, hosting nations have enjoyed significant success in the AFCON final. Since 2006, only Egypt (2006) and Tunisia (2004) have managed to capitalize on home advantage and claim the title. South Africa (1996), Algeria (1990), and Egypt (1986) further illustrate the power of playing in front of a passionate home crowd.
Nigeria itself experienced this advantage, winning their first AFCON title in 1980 on home soil, defeating Algeria in the final. Additionally, Ghana (1978, 1963), Sudan (1970), and Ethiopia (1962) all secured victories as hosts in previous editions.
Despite the statistical odds, the Super Eagles possess the talent and determination to overcome history. Their victory over Côte d’Ivoire in the group stage serves as a confidence booster, and their overall performance throughout the tournament has been commendable.
Sunday’s final promises to be a thrilling encounter, charged with the emotions of a home crowd desperate for victory and the ambition of a team seeking to etch their names in AFCON history. Regardless of the outcome, this match is sure to be a spectacle for African football fans worldwide.
Ahead of Sunday’s big clash, here is a rundown of the number of times AFCON hosts always emerged champions when they got to the final.
AFCON 2006 (EGYPT)
The last time an AFCON hosts got to the final and won it was Egypt in the 2006 edition.
After a brilliant run up to the final, Egypt rounded off the tournament with a hard fought win against a Didier Drogba-leg Ivorian side 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes ended goalless.
AFCON 2004 (TUNISIA)
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia landed their first and only AFCON title when they played hosts to the competition.
In a North African derby clash with the Atlas Lions of Morocco, Tunisia triumphed 2-1 to cap a wonderful tournament.
AFCON 1996 (SOUTH AFRICA)
Bafana Bafana of South Africa made their debut at the AFCON when they hosted the tournament in 1996.
Boosted by a vociferous home crowd, South Africa emerged Africans champions at the first time of asking.
Under the late Clive Baker, South Africa defeated heavyweights like Cameroon, Algeria, and Ghana to the reach the final where they beat Tunisia 2-0 to be crowned African champions.
AFCON 1990 (ALGERIA)
Algeria got the nod to host the 1990 AFCON and they eventually won it thanks to a 1-0 win against Nigeria in the final.
Ten years earlier (1980) they had qualified for the final only to lose 3-0 to Nigeria.
AFCON 1986 (EGYPT)
The hosting right of the 1986 AFCON went to Egypt which they eventually won to land their third continental title.
However, it did not come easy for Egypt in the final, as they had to rely on penalties to beat then reigning champions Cameroon.
After regulation time ended 0-0, the Pharaohs went on to win 5-4 on penalty shootout.
AFCON 1980 (NIGERIA)
Nigeria was handed the hosting right of the 1980 edition AFCON which they won after overcoming Algeria.
A brace from Segun Odegbami and a solitary strike from the late Muda Lawal secured Nigeria its first AFCON trophy.
AFCON 1978 (GHANA)
The hosting right of the 1978 AFCON went to Ghana and they made their home advantage count as they claimed a third continental title.
The final, which was played inside the Accra Sports Stadium, saw the Black Stars beat Uganda 2-0.
AFCON 1970 (SUDAN)
For the second time Sudan won the hosting right of the AFCON as they welcomed other African teams in 1970.
Unlike in the maiden AFCON edition in 1957 which Sudan hosted and was won by Egypt, the Sudanese became African champions thanks to a 1-0 win against Ghana in the final.
AFCON 1963 (GHANA)
Ghana became the first West African country to host the AFCON when they got the rights for the 1963 edition.
The Black Stars emerged African champions for the first time as they thrashed Sudan 3-0 in the final.
AFCON 1962 (ETHIOPIA)
Ethiopia became the third country to be granted hosted rights for the AFCON in 1962.
The Ethiopians made home advantage count as they became Kings of African football, following a 4-2 win against then reigning champions Egypt after extra-time in the final.
AFCON 1959 (EGYPT)
After Egypt won the inaugural edition of the AFCON in 1957, they hosted the tournament in 1959.
The Pharaohs became the first hosts of the AFCON to be crowned champions.
With only three teams (Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan) taking part in the 1959 tournament, the Egyptians won in a round-robin format with Sudan finishing second and Ethiopia third.