Throughout the history of the Africa Cup of Nations there have officially been nine hosts that have won the title. However, a number of those triumphs came in the early stagings of the event, when the number of participants ranged from as little as just three, up to four, six and eight. Perhaps more appropriate would be to analyse the results of events from 1996 onwards, when the finals became a 16-team tournament – the same format that endures to this day. (N.B. Only 15 teams participated in 1996 due to Nigeria’s last minute withdrawal).
In the nine Africa Cup of Nations tournaments since 1996, South Africa, Tunisia and Egypt have each won the title on home soil, while Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali and Ghana have all reached at least the semi-finals in years when they have hosted. Only Ghana (2000 co-hosts), Angola (2010) and Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (2012 co-hosts) have failed to reach the last four as hosts in the past nine tournaments.
2013 hosts South Africa are the 9.00 third-favourites to win the Africa Cup of Nations this February, while they are 1.80 favourites to top Group A ahead of Angola (2.40), Morocco (3.10) and Cape Verde Islands (15.00).
The stats also suggest that it is best to avoid future hosts, perhaps due to their aiming towards peaking for the event on home soil. No team scheduled to host the following Africa Cup of Nations have managed to reach the semi-finals. Morocco will host the 2015 tournament and are a 15.00 chance to lift the trophy on February 10.
Possibly due to the relatively short time span between Africa Cup of Nations – two years, as opposed to four for European Championships and the World Cup – there tends to be cycles of nations doing well and reaching the latter stages of tournaments, and even winning successive titles. After winning the title in 1996, South Africa were runners-up in 1998; Cameroon won successive titles in 2000 and 2002; Nigeria reached the semi-finals or better for four consecutive tournaments between 2000 and 2006; while Egypt won three successive titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Ghana, meanwhile, have qualified for at least the semis in each of the last three tournaments.
Ivory Coast lost last year’s final on a penalty shoot-out and go into the 2013 tournament as red-hot 2.75 favourites to take the title. Defending champions Zambia can be backed at odds of 12.50, Ghana are the 6.00 second-favourites and last year’s third-place finishers Mali are a 15.00 shot.
As is tradition with international tournaments the hosts kick-off proceedings with the opening match. And since that 1996 tournament when the format became what it is today, only one host nation, Burkina Faso in 1998, have lost their opening match. Seven (including co-hosts) have won their opener and two have drawn; one of those draws being in 2010 when Angola let a 4-0 lead slip after conceding four goals in the last 11 minutes.
South Africa kick off this campaign on January 19 against one of the outsiders for the title, Cape Verde. Bafana Bafana are priced at odds of 1.52 to kick off with a win and are also 2.20 to be leading at half-time and full-time.
South Africa to win @ 9.00
Zambia to win @ 12.50