50 Years Later, Cameroon welcomes the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations
On January 09, 2021, the world of soccer will be focused on Cameroon. It is the day scheduled for the official opening of the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations now called TotalEnergiesAFCON.
50 years later, the land of the Indomitable Lions is once again welcoming the tournament. Indeed, Cameroon hosted its very-first and last Africa Cup of Nations from February 23 to March 5, 1972.
The competition was then played in two cities, including Yaoundé (Multi-purpose Stadium), and Douala (Reunification stadium) built exclusively for the purpose.
The field of eight teams was split into two groups of four. The first two from each group were directly qualified for the semi-finals and continued the competition.
Fifty years later, the Africa Cup of Nations that Cameroon is about to host has changed substantially and physically. From 8 finalists, the competition has paved the way since 2019 for 24 nations fighting a fierce battle for the trophy.
Countries also play in several cities on state-of-the-art stadiums, for some. From twelve days in time, the tournament now lasts four weeks and attracts more and more sponsors.
If the youths of 1972 did follow matches over the radio, today they have the choice between the Television, Websites, Social Networks and many other means of communication.
From a technical standpoint, AFCON has also undergone profound modifications, one of the most striking being the use of the Video Assistant Referee -VAR, with transcendent changes.
However, if there is one thing that remains unchanged with the Africa Cup of Nations, it is the enthusiasm of Cameroonians in particular and Africans in general, for the event. Since the day the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr Patrice Motsepe confirmed the holding of the Tournament on Cameroonian soil, football fans have been waiting eagerly for the AFCON Kick-off.
Marcel Bengono, is a manager of a Snack-bar in the Biyem-Assi neigborhood: "Although Yaoundé will play host to two Groups, not everyone will go to the stadium. There will always be people with me here in the bar", he said joyfully. Elysée Nya, in his fifties, was born the year Cameroon organized AFCON for the first time. He says he has no memory of that edition. The only souvenirs being a collection of written reports.
The 33rd Africa Cup of Nations promises to be an exciting football jamboree. Six Groups of 4 would be located in the cities of Yaoundé, Douala, Limbe, Bafoussam and Garoua.
Cameroon, the host country, will play the opener against the Stallions of Burkina Faso, at the Brand New Olembe Omnisports Stadium.
Irene GAOUDA, in Yaoundé
Read more on AFCON 1972