The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations gets under way on Saturday when hosts Ivory Coast take on Guinea-Bissau in Abidjan.

We round up the numbers on Africa’s showpiece continental finals.

0 – There will be no debut nation at these finals in the Ivory Coast. All 24 teams have competed at least once before in the continental showpiece.

0 – The 2006 finals in Egypt under stand-in coach Ted Dumitru was Bafana Bafana’s worst-ever showing at the continental competition. They lost all three group games to Guinea (0-2), Tunisia (0-2) and Zambia (0-1) without scoring a goal.

1 – Former Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene is the only gloveman to score at the Cup of Nations when he netted a penalty in a 1-1 pool stage draw with Nigeria in 2013. Zambia were defending champions but could not hold onto their crown.

2 – Ex-Egypt striker Hassan El-Shazly holds the record for most hattricks at the Cup of Nations after he scored two – one in 1963 and another in 1970.

3 – Two coaches have lifted the Cup of Nations trophy three times. Ghana’s Charles Gyamfi and Hassan Shehata, who won three in a row between 2006 and 2010.

4 – Bafana Bafana’s biggest win at the finals was a 4-1 defeat of Namibia in 1998. They will face the Brave Warriors again in the Ivory Coast. Their biggest loss was 4-0 at the hands of Nigeria in 2004.

5 – Laurent Pokou holds the record for the most goals scored in a single Cup of Nations match when he netted five times for the Ivory Coast in a 6-1 victory over Ethiopia in 1970.

6 – Four players have managed to score in six different finals tournaments – Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia), Andre Ayew (Ghana) and Asamoah Gyan (Ghana). Ayew will appear for the Black Stars in Ivory Coast and can take the record outright.

6 – Mo Salah may be a scoring machine for Liverpool, but he has not exactly excelled at the Cup of Nations. He has six goals over three tournaments, scoring two each in 2017, 2019 and 2021. He will be looking for much more this time round.

7 – Benni McCarthy has the most goals for South Africa at the Cup of Nations finals with seven, which includes an incredible four in 13 minutes against Namibia in 1998. Shaun Bartlett (6) is the second on the list of scorers.

7 – Egypt have won the Cup of Nations title the most times with seven victories. They have also claimed three silver medals and three bronze, so have 13 in total. Nigeria actually have the most medals overall with three gold, four silver and eight bronze. Bafana Bafana languish some way behind with one gold (1996), one silver (1998) and one bronze (2000).

8 – Current Cameroon coach Rigobert Song and former Egypt star Ahmed Hassan hold the record for the most Cup of Nations tournament appearances as a player with eight each. Ghana’s Andre Ayew and Tunisia’s Youssef Msakni are set to join them in the Ivory Coast having played seven previously.

9 – Former Zaire (now DR Congo) forward Ndaye Mulamba holds the record for the most goals in a single Cup of Nations finals when he netted nine in 1974 to lead his side to the title.

9 – Frenchman Claude Leroy holds the record for most tournaments as a coach having led teams at nine separate Cup of Nations between 1986 and 2017. He took six different teams to the finals in all – Cameroon (twice), Senegal (twice), Ghana, DR Congo (twice), Congo-Brazzaville and Togo.

11 – Only 11 of the previous 33 host nations have lifted the Cup of Nations trophy on home soil, including South Africa in 1996. The last to do it was Egypt in 2006.

16 – The youngest player to appear at the Cup of Nations finals was Shiva N’Zigou, who was 16 years and 93 days when he played for Gabon in a group stage match against South Africa in 2000.

18 – Former Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o holds the record for most goals at the Cup of Nations finals with 18 from 29 matches across six tournaments between 2000 and 2010.

25 – Egypt have appeared at the most finals, 25, one more than Ivory Coast, who are next on the list, with Ghana in third on 23 appearances.

29 – DR Congo have lost the most games at the Cup of Nations finals, slipping to 29 defeats in 73 matches. They have also conceded the most goals (102) out of any team.

42 – South Africa have played 43 times at 10 different finals tournaments, winning 16 matches (37 per cent), drawing 13 and suffering 14 defeats. They have outscored their opponents 48-45. Their only title win came on home soil in 1996.

44 – The oldest player to appear at the Cup of Nations was ex-Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who was 44 years and 21 days when he played against Cameroon in 2017.

44 – The number of African nations out of 54 who have qualified for the finals in the past. Only Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Lesotho, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Somalia and South Sudan have never appeared.

102 – The 2019 finals hold the record for most goals scored at 102, two more than in 2021. Both those tournaments featured 24 teams. The finals with the most goals on average per game were in 1962 (4.50 per game) and the least in 1988 (1.44).

107 – Egypt have played the most games at the Cup of Nations finals. Only Ghana (102) have also reached a century. The Pharaohs also hold the records for the most finals tournaments played (25), games won (60) and goals scored (168).

1957 – The first Africa Cup of Nations finals was played in 1957 and contained only three teams – Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. South Africa were a founding fourth member and due to play Ethiopia in the semifinals but were disqualified due to Apartheid.

2006 – No host nation has lifted the trophy since Egypt in 2006. In fact, no country staging the event has even made the final in that time.

Source: Mzansi Football

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