The Pharoahs of Egypt, is the most successful national team in Africa, having won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) a record seven times.
With its rich history in the biennial competition, Egypt will host the 32nd tourney and would boast of Liverpool’s star player Mo Salah and captain of the Egyptian team, who won the UEFA Champions League in 2018/2019 season to stretch the AFCON wins to eight.
The Pharoahs of Egypt won the maiden edition in 1957 and defended it on home soil in 1959, as well as the 1986 edition, Burkina Faso in 1998, 2006 in Cairo, Egypt, Ghana in 2008 and Angola in 2010 edition.
Egypt has also been as high as ninth in the FIFA World Rankings, making the team one of only three African national teams to enter the world’s top ten (the other two are Nigeria and Morocco).
Despite their respectable continental record, Egypt has so far made only three appearances in the World Cup (in 1934, 1990 and 2018). The Egyptian team was the first not from the Americas or Europe to qualify for the World Cup.
In their first game in the debut competition, which was a semi-final, Egypt faced Sudan, and won 2-1 with goals from Raafat Attia and Ad-Diba, enabling Egypt to play in their first final. In the final, they faced Ethiopia, in which Egypt won 4–0, with these goals being scored by Ad-Diba, thus making them champions for the first time in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The top scorer of this tournament was Ad-Diba from Egypt with five goals.
In their second participation in the1959 AFCON, Egypt became champions again. There were only three teams in that tournament, being Ethiopia, Sudan. Egypt again was undefeated.
In the 1962 AFCON, hosted in Ethiopia, Egypt faced Uganda in the semi-finals, which consisted of only four teams and won 2–1. Egypt then advanced to the finals to face the hosts Ethiopia, but they lost 4–2 during extra time, thus losing their first final in the AFCON.
Their fourth appearance came in 1963 in Ghana. Egypt was placed in Group B with Sudan and Nigeria, beating Nigeria with a score of 6-3, but drew 2–2 with Sudan. Despite being undefeated in the group stage, they were ranked second, behind Sudan by a goal difference. Egypt, as runners-up in Group B, participated in the 3rd place match, playing against Ethiopia, winning Ethiopia 3-0.
The Pharoahs qualified for the 1965 AFCON but withdrew because of their diplomatic relationship with Tunisia, who were hosts of the tournament. They Again, absented themselves from 1968 AFCON which was hosted in Ethiopia.
In the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations, hosted in Sudan, Egypt were in Group B along with Ghana, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In their opening match, Egypt defeated Guinea by a score of 4–1, in which Ali Abo Greisha scored twice, Hassan El Shazly scored once, and Taha Basry also scored once during that game.
Egypt’s next game was against Ghana, which ended 1–1, with Ibrahim Sunday scoring for Ghana and Bazooka scoring for Egypt. In their third game, they faced Congo, and Egypt won 1–0 by a goal from Abo Greisha. Egypt ended being in first place, thus advancing to the next round, where they faced Sudan. However, in the third place match, they won Ivory Coast by a score of 3–1, making Egypt become third place again in this tournament.
For the 1972 Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt failed to qualify for the first time in this tournament after being eliminated by Morocco by an aggregate score of 5–3.
However, Egypt returned for the 1974 African Cup of Nations, in which they were hosts. In the group stage, Egypt were in Group A with Zambia, Uganda, and the Ivory Coast.
Egypt was successful, defeating Uganda 2–1, Zambia 3–1, and Ivory Coast 2–0. They cruised to the semi-finals to play against Congo formerly known as Zaire. Egypt lost 2–3 against Zaire, had to face Congo for a third place finish. Egypt won Congo by 4–0.
In the 1976 AFCON, in Ethiopia, Egypt were in Group A with the hosts Ethiopia, Guinea, and Uganda. The competition was one of the unsuccessful matches for them and again failed to qualify for the 1978 African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
Egypt reappeared for the 1980 African Cup of Nations in Nigeria. Egypt, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, and Tanzania, were in Group A. They won in their first game against the Ivory Coast 2–1, defeated Tanzania 2–1, but lost 1-0 to the host Nigeria. Egypt progressed to the next round which was the semi-finals, to face Algeria. Egypt lost 4–2 in penalties, after drawing 2–2 after extra time. For the third-place match, Egypt lost to Morocco.
Egypt withdrew during the qualifying campaign for the 1982 AFCON in Libya.
For the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt returned. Egypt, Egypt defeated Cameroon 1–0, Ivory Coast 1–2, but drew Togo 0–0 at the Group stage. Egypt advanced to the last four to face Nigeria. Egypt lost 7-8 to Nigeria in penalties, after drawing 2–2. Again, the Egyptian side lost 1-3 in the third placed match to Algeria.
Placing fourth in the last campaign, the story changed in the 1986 in Egypt. In their opening game, Egypt lost to Senegal 1–0. However, Egypt went on to win their two remaining games against Mozambique and Ivory Coast. In the semi-finals, Egypt won against Morocco 1–0, advancing to the finals since the 1962 edition, to play against Cameroon, who had Roger Milla. Chanting a host and win, Egypt won the game 5–4 in penalties, after drawing 0–0, thus becoming champions for the third time.
Egypt were not as successful as they were in the 1988 edition. As the defending champions, Egypt failed to progress to the semi-finals having lost to Cameroon, drew with Nigeria and won 3-0 against Kenya at the group stage.
In the 1990 tourney, it got worse. Egypt were paired in Group A, with Algeria, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast. Egypt lost all their group stage games, thus picking no point for the first time in the history of AFCON and failed again in 1992 in their AFCON campaign with no point recorded at the Group stage.
Going into the 1994 AFCON, in Tunisia, Egypt were in Group B with Nigeria and Gabon. In their first game, against Gabon, Egypt won 4–0. In their second game, they drew against Nigeria 0–0. Egypt were able to qualify to the knockout stage to face Mali where Egypt lost by a lone goal.
In the 1996 edition, hosted by South Africa. Egypt were placed in Group A with hosts, Cameroon, and Angola. In their first game, Egypt faced Angola and won 2-1 but lost 1-2 against Cameroon. In their third game, against South Africa, Egypt defeated South Africa.
In the quarter-finals, Egypt faced Zambia and lost 1-3. South Africa won their first title, and as hosts.
In the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt won the tourney for the fourth time in Burkina Faso. Egypt were placed in Group D, with Mozambique, Zambia, and Morocco. In their first game, Egypt won Mozambique 2–0, Egypt again won 4–0 against Zambia but lost 1-0 to Morocco, 1–0, in 90minutes. Egypt qualified to the quarter-finals, as runners-up. Egypt won 5–4 in penalties against Ivory Coast, after a 0–0 draw in regulation time. In their semi-final, Egypt faced the hosts Burkina Faso and posted a 2–0 scoreline. This made Egypt travel to the final since the 1986 tournament and beat South Africa 2-0.
As defending champions in the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria, Egypt won all three group matches and advanced to the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals, they lost to Tunisia 0–1, the goal was scored by a penalty kick. Egypt were eliminated from the tournament, where Cameroon won their third title.
In 2002 in Mali, Egypt were placed in Group D with Senegal, Tunisia, and Zambia. In their opening match, Egypt lost 0–1 to Senegal. However, Egypt won their two remaining group stage games, and progressed to the quarter-finals, as runners-up, with six points, to face Cameroon but lost 1–0. This got Egypt eliminated and Cameroon won their fourth title on the second consecutive time.
Egypt qualified to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, which was hosted in Tunisia. Egypt were placed in Group C with Algeria, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon. Egypt won 1–2 against Zimbabwe, lost 2–1 to Algeria, and drew 0–0 against Cameroon. Egypt failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. The Pharoahs automatically qualified as hosts. They were in Group A with Libya, Morocco, and the Ivory Coast. In the opening match, Egypt defeated Libya 3–0. In the second game, Egypt drew 0–0 against Morocco.
However, in the third game, Egypt won 3–1 against Ivory Coast, thus making Egypt as the group leader and advancing to the next round. In the quarter-finals phase, Egypt faced DR Congo, in which Egypt won 4–1, In the semi-finals, Egypt faced Senegal. In this game, Egypt won Senegal 2–1, and booked a final spot. In the final match, Egypt drew 0–0 with the Ivory Coast, sending them to extra time.
After the extra time, the game was taken to the penalty shoot-out phase. In the penalty shoot-out phase, Egypt were victorious, winning 4–2 against the Ivory Coast, and claiming their fifth title, being the third title won as hosts and again won in 2008 in Ghana.
In the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, in Angola, Egypt were in Group C with Nigeria, Benin, and Mozambique. Egypt won their three group stage games, thus advancing to the quarter-finals, to face Cameroon. Egypt won 3–1 after extra time, thus eliminating the Cameroonian team. In the semi-finals, they faced Algeria, in which Egypt won 4–0, making Egypt go to the final for the third consecutive time. In the final, Egypt faced Ghana. In this game, Egypt won 1–0 against Ghana, with the goal scorer being Gedo. This led Egypt to their seventh title, win their third consecutive cup, and become the first nation to win three consecutive Africa Cup of Nations titles and becoming the most successful.
However, for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, even though Egypt were the defending champions, they failed to qualify. After the Port Said Stadium riot which caused the deaths of 74 people, the Egyptian government shut down the domestic league for two years, which affected the Egyptian national team, resulting in their failure to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
For the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which was hosted in Gabon, Egypt had to qualify to enter. Egypt were seeded into Group G with Nigeria, Tanzania, and Chad. In their first game, against Tanzania, Egypt won 3–0. This made Egypt joint group leader by goal difference with Nigeria, with both nations having won their first game. On June 4, 2016, in their qualifying away match against Tanzania, Egypt won 2–0 and managed to secure their berth in the 2017 edition of the championship.
This marked Egypt’s return to the competition after 7 years having missed out on the previous three editions, but lost an AFCON final, and for the first time lost a final to their rivals Cameroon.