The culture of football match in Africa goes back to the second half of the 19th century. The first documented match took place in Cape Town in 1862, after which the game spread rapidly throughout the continent.
With colonialism’s hold on Africa slipping away, the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) was established in February 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan. The first African Cup of Nations tournament also played at that time. Independent African states encouraged football as a means of forging a national identity and generating international recognition. In the 1957 African Cup of Nations Egypt defeated the host nation, Sudan.
The competition’s format has also changed over time, with the number of teams increasing from 3 in 1957 to 16 in 1996. Growing participation also led to the introduction of qualifying rounds in 1968, the same year that CAF decided to hold the tournament biennially.
In the years after the inaugural tournament in 1957 – in which only three teams took part and Ethiopia got a wild card to the final – the ‘Walaya Antelopes’ was a dominant force in African football winning the cup in 1962 on home turf in Addis Ababa and reaching the semifinals in 1963 and 1968. However, the glorious period of the 60′s was followed by four dismal decades and not a single participation in the tournament since 1982. Under the leadership of Ethiopian Ydnekachew Tessema, CAF president from 1972 until his death in 1987, the cup earned greater international prestige.