The Cup of Nations is Africa's biggest regular sporting event and it's held every 2 years. This format changed recently to avoid a clash with the World Cup (2014), so the 29th Africa Cup of Nations was hosted by South Africa in 2013. Libya had won the bid to host, but due to the revolution that took place, the tournament was moved to South Africa. Since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, the infrastructure is all in place. The matches will be played across the country in five stadiums that were built for the World Cup. The tournament will kick off on the 19th of January (2013), and Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg will host the final on 2 February (2013). It's time to dust off those vuvuzelas!
If you're traveling in Africa during the Cup of Nations, you'll know when the matches are being played because countries literally come to a standstill to watch or listen to the games. Football (soccer) is hugely popular throughout Africa.
Sixteen national teams made it through the preliminary stages for the 2013 Cup of Nations. See below for groups and schedules. More details about the format of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Tournament...
Matches will be played at: Soccer City Stadium (Johannesburg), Mbombela Stadium (Nelspruit), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Port Elizabeth), Royal Bafokeng Stadium (Rustenberg) and Moses Mabhida Stadium (Durban). See this map for stadium locations.
29th Africa Cup of Nations Results and News
Two of Africa's traditional soccer powerhouses did not make the Africa Cup of Nations this year (2013), Egypt and Cameroon. Cameroon was ousted by the tiny island nation of Cape Verde. And it's the Cape Verdeans (now dubbed the "Giant Killers") that will kick off the tournament on January 19th, 2013 against the home team, South Africa's Bafana Bafana.
Nigeria's Super Eagles are eager to make their mark and put on a good show this year, but they face a very strong Zambian side (who won the tournament last year). Veteran Didier Drogba will once again don the jersey for the Ivory Coast, most likely for the last time. Togo qualified and will be playing for their dead comrades, who were ambushed in a terrible incident during the Cup of Nations in Angola, held in 2010. Ethiopia plays for the first time in 31 years and is East Africa's sole representative in the Cup. More on players and teams to watch below.
Most of Africa's best players play in Europe. It's a struggle for them to get the time off and play for their home country. A lack of practice with their country team mates' means they don't always perform as well as they're expected to. The good news for African football is that teams like Zambia (who won AFCON in 2012) have more players playing in Africa, than in Europe currently.
Who is Playing in the Africa Cup of Nations (2013)?The draw for the final tournament took place on 24 October, 2012 in Durban attended by South Africa president Jacob Zuma and Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou. 16 teams will play in 4 groups. In the first round every team in each group plays one another. The two top teams from each group goes on to the quarter finals.
Click on the highlighted teams for details on each squad.
South Africa -- Bafana Bafana (The Boys). Top player to watch is Bongani Khumalo who plays as a centre back for Greek side PAOK. This team is very fit team and hopes that the home field advantage will take them all the way to the finals. They'll need a little luck, but the semi's are possible.
Cape Verde -- Tubarões Azuis (Blue Sharks) or Crioulos (Creoles). Playing in their very first AFCON, Cape Verde shocked many by beating Cameroon to qualify. Player to watch is Djaniny who plays in Portugal.
Morocco -- Atlas Lions. Morocco always has the potential to go far in this tournament, but this year they barely squeaked by Mozambique to qualify. They should make it past the group stage, especially with strong players like Mehdi Benatia and Younes Belhanda.
Ghana -- The Black Stars. It's about time the Black Stars won this cup, they have failed to do so for the past 30 years, despite fielding excellent teams. Perhaps 2013 will be their lucky year. They have a strong mid-field that can beat the best, but they need to figure out how to score. Player to watch is the young up and coming star, Christian Atsu.
Mali -- Les Aigles (Eagles). On paper, the Eagles should easily make it through the group stage along with the Black Stars, with the veteran leadership of Seydou Keita. But they may struggle against the Leopards.
DRC -- The Leopards. This is an exciting team to watch, keep your eye on Youssouf Mulumbu and Dieumerci Mbokani. It would not be a huge surprise if they make it to the quarter finals.
Niger -- Menas (gazelles). Niger makes an AFCON appearance for the second time in a row, which is already an excellent result. They will try and make it past the group stage this time, but it will be difficult. Olivier Bonnes is a player to watch on this team.
Zambia -- Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets). After an amazingly emotional win in the 2012 competition, the Copper Bullets are looking to repeat their victory. They have kept their inspirational coach, Herve Renard. The team captain Christopher Katongo recently one the BBC's African footballer of the year award. Another player to watch is Emmanuel Mayuka, who plays for Southampton.
Nigeria -- The Super Eagles. The Super Eagles are looking to dispel the ghosts of their rather disappointing showing during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This time round, they hope to move beyond the group stage led by the likes of star player Victor Moses.
Burkina Faso -- Les Etalons (Stallions). It's been a while since the Stallions made it through to the final rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, and on paper, 2013 does not look like it will be their year. However, key players like veteran defender Charles Kabore may get them beyond the group stage.
Ethiopia -- Black Lions. After 30 long years of not qualifying, the Black Lions are in AFCON once again. Realistically, they are unlikely to get too far, but they are a fun team to watch. The player to watch is local hero Oumed Oukri who plays in Ethiopia's League.
Ivory Coast -- The Elephants. With players like Drogba and Toure, the Elephants have a good chance to win the cup in 2013. But they have not reached their potential in the past, so will need a little luck on their side.
Tunisia -- Les Aigles de Carthage (The Carthage Eagles). The Carthage Eagles are one of Africa's top teams, and should go quite far, but this is a tough group they've drawn. A key player to watch is forward Youssef Msakni.
Algeria -- Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes). Algeria is ranked second in Africa, and should make it through the latter stages of the tournament. Their last win was in 1990 on home soil, and South Africa is far away! Modjid Bougherra is a key player on the squad, who currently plays in Qatar.
Togo -- Les Eperviers (The Sparrow Hawks) return to play in the Cup of Nations, after their horrific ambush on the team bus in Angola during the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. Star player Emmanuel Adebayor will hope to push the team beyond the group stage.
Schedule and ResultsGroup A
1/19/13: South Africa (0) v Cape Verde (0), Soccer City, Johannesburg (18:00)
1/19/13: Angola (0) v Morocco (0), Soccer City, Johannesburg (21:00)
1/23/13: South Africa (2) v Angola (0), Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban (17:00)
1/23/13: Morocco (1) v Cape Verde (1), Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban (20:00)
1/27/13: Morocco (2) v South Africa (2), Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban (19:00)
1/27/13: Cape Verde (2) v Angola (1), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (19:00)
1/20/13: Ghana (2) v DRC (2), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (17:00)
1/20/13: Mali (1) v Niger (0), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (20:00)
1/24/13: Ghana (1) v Mali (0), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (17:00)
1/24/13: Niger (0) v DRC (0), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (20:00)
1/28/13: Niger (0) v Ghana (3), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth (19:00)
1/28/13: DRC (1) v Mali (1), Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban (19:00)
1/21/13: Zambia (1) v Ethiopia (1), Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (17:00)
1/21/13: Nigeria (1) v Burkina Faso (1), Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (20:00)
1/25/13: Zambia (1) v Nigeria (1), Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (17:00)
1/25/13: Burkina Faso v Ethiopia, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (20:00)
1/29/13: Burkina Faso (0) v Zambia (0), Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (19:00)
1/29/13: Ethiopia (0) v Nigeria (2), Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (19:00)
1/22/13: Ivory Coast (2) v Togo (1), Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (17:00)
1/22/13: Tunisia (1) v Algeria (0) Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (20:00)
1/26/13: Ivory Coast (3) v Tunisia (0), Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (17:00)
1/26/13: Algeria (0) v Togo (2), Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (20:00)
1/30/13: Algeria (2) v Ivory Coast (2), Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg (19:00)
1/30/13: Togo (1) v Tunisia (1), Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit (19:00)
Quarter Finals Results2/2/13: Ghana (2) v Cape Verde (0), Port Elizabeth
2/2/13: South Africa (1) v Mali (1 - won on penalties), Durban
2/3/13: Ivory Coast (1) v Nigeria (2), Rustenberg
2/3/13: Burkina Faso (1) v Togo (0), Nelspruit
Semi Finals Results2/6/13: Mali (1) v Nigeria (4), Durban
2/6/13: Burkina Faso (1) - won on penalties)v Ghana (1), Nelspruit
Finals2/10/13: Nigeria (1) v Burkina Faso (0), Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
How Can I Watch the Matches?If you're in Europe you should be able to see matches on a major TV network; the BBC has complete coverage of all the matches.
For live streaming coverage on your personal computer check out My African Football. It's easier than installing a new satellite dish, and much cheaper too.
Planning to go to South Africa?If you've planned your trip to South Africa, make sure you are fully reserved at your hotels because they'll be filled to capacity.
Sources and more Information about AFCON 2013 and Past Tournaments