Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 February 1957 - Three Nations To A Cup

On 10 February 1957, Egypt won the inaugural match of the Africa Cup of Nations, beating Sudan by the score of 1-2 at Sudan's Khartoum Stadium. The win put the visiting Egyptian side right into the Final, as only four teams had been invited to participate and one was disqualified before ever playing a match.

The Cup of Nations was organized by the fledgling Confederation of African Football, itself formally established just earlier that month. At that time, the CAF had only four members--Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Sudan--and expected that all four would participate in the Cup. The South Africans, however, still under a policy of apartheid, refused to send a mixed-race side to the tournament and were disqualified as a result. South Africa's expulsion meant that their scheduled opponents, Ethiopia, received a bye in the semifinals and automatically qualified for the Final.

In the one semifinal match that was played, Egypt took an early lead with a 21st-minute penalty kick from center forward Raafat Ateya. Sudan equalized shortly after the break with a goal from Siddiq Manzul in the 58th minute before Egypt's Mohamed Diab El-Attar ("Al-Diba") put his side ahead for good in the 72nd minute.

The Final was never in doubt, as Egypt rolled to a 4-0 win. All four goals came from Al-Diba, making him the tournament's highest scorer.

The tournament is played every two years and has since expanded to 16 teams, who are determined by qualification rounds involving all 54 CAF members. Egypt has remained the most successful nation, with seven titles in nine Final appearances, including an unprecedented three consecutive titles in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

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