AFCON final: Five classic clashes

The impending face-off between hosts Ivory Coast and Nigeria in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final marks the 34th edition of the prestigious tournament, presenting a rare opportunity for a home team to claim victory.

Hosts' historical AFCON struggle

Despite the advantages of playing on home turf, AFCON host nations have historically grappled with securing success in the African championship.

The recent 1-0 win by Ivory Coast over the Democratic Republic of Congo in the semi-final adds intrigue to their quest for a breakthrough against regional rivals Nigeria in Abidjan.

Oumar Diakite, Ivory Coast
Photo by Icon Sport

Breaking the pattern

The unique trend in African championship history reveals that the last eight host nations, spanning two-year intervals, have all fallen short of securing the coveted cup.

None have even reached the final since 2006, adding an extra layer of anticipation to the potential narrative of Ivory Coast breaking this trend.

Recalling past AFCON final dramas

1984: Cameroon break Nigeria hearts

The Ivory Coast-hosted tournament witnessed Nigeria facing Cameroon in the AFCON final.

Despite an early lead, Cameroon, inspired by Roger Milla, fought back to win 3-1, sealing victory with goals from Rene Ndjeya, Theophile Abega, and Ernest Ebongue.

1994: Nigeria bounce back

Zambia, rebuilding after a tragic air crash, surprised everyone by making it to the final against Nigeria in Tunisia. Zambia took an early lead but fell short against Nigeria, securing victory with two goals from surprise starter Emmanuel Amunike, selected by wily coach Clemens Westerhof.

Photo by Icon Sport

1996: South Africa's dream debut

South Africa‘s dream debut in the first 16-team tournament ended triumphantly with Mark Williams scoring a second-half brace in the final, hosted after stepping in as replacement hosts. Cue Nelson Mandela celebrating.

2012: Ivory Coast heartbreak, Zambian delight

In a heartbreaking penalty shootout against Zambia in Libreville, Didier Drogba's missed penalty denied Ivory Coast victory in regular time. Stoppila Sunzu converted the winning penalty, securing Zambia's triumph.

Ivory Coast AFCON
Photo by Icon Sport

2017: Cameroon's unexpected victory

The 2017 edition in Gabon witnessed a remarkable sporting success story as Cameroon clinched their fifth title by overcoming Egypt in the final in Libreville, defying expectations with a squad of limited experience and key players rejecting national duty.

Anticipating a memorable AFCON 2024 final

As Ivory Coast and Nigeria prepare to face off, fans hope for a memorable final, potentially matching the drama of the best-deciding games in tournament history.

AFCON final: Five classic clashes
Barend Prins

Barend has covered nearly every sport under the sun at some point, but has focused mostly on football over the last decade. He is a keen Liverpool fan whose heart has also been broken by the South African cricket team many times. In his spare time, Barend dreams of helping George RR Martin finish A Song of Ice and Fire.