The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) taking place in Côte d’Ivoire has been a memorable one for Nigerians.
In the midst of all the hardship and crisis rocking the country, this tournament seems to be one of the very few things bringing joy to Nigerians.
The article you are about reading was inspired on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
That day was the tournament’s semi-finals.
It was a tensed day in Nigeria, citizens moved about their normal business with frowns on their faces, but with one prayer in their hearts.
The reason for this tension is simple.
You see, after Davido and other Nigerian artists lost the Grammy Award to South Africa’s Tyla, their disappointment knew no bonds.
And here again, Nigeria is clashing with South Africa in the AFCON, and they prayed hard not to be beaten twice.
Fans gathered in large crowds to view the game and in the end, Nigeria cruised through to the finals.
It was in the midst of this heavy joy and celebration that a young spectator noticed something on the huge TV screen, and threw a question to the crowd.
Why is the AFCON holding in 2024 called AFCON 2023?, the young man asked after seeing the inscription ‘Cote d’Ivoire 23’ boldly written on the screen.
It’s a tradition to use the year in which a tournament is held in its official designation.
But for this year’s AFCON, you must have seen tags such as AFCON 2023 or Ivory Coast 2023 on social media and other places.
Now, let’s dive into this simple but yet very confusing question.
Cote d’Ivoire was originally scheduled to host the 2021 edition but was pushed back with Cameroon (scheduled to host the 2019 edition stripped of hosting rights) awarded the 2021 edition.
On January 30, 2019, CAF confirmed Cote d’Ivoire as the host of 2023 AFCON.
However, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, CAF moved the 2021 AFCON holding in Cameroon for the second time to 2022.
When this was done, they retained the name 2021 Africa Cup of Nations moniker for sponsorship purposes.
CAF initially announced the 2023 edition would take place from June 23 to July 23, 2023. That is exactly a year after the 2021 edition which took place in 2022.
They postponed it due to weather conditions in the West African country.
Patrice Motsepe made an announcement in July 2023.
During a press conference in Morocco, he said: “The 2023 Afcon will now be played between January and February 2024.
“This is one of the issues we discussed during our congress meeting here in Morocco, and the official dates will be communicated later.
“It is after deliberations we came into the decision, we have partners and even though we make decisions.
“It is out of respect that we take the advice we are getting that we cannot take a risk [to host the tournament].
“That is why we have made the necessary announcement today (Sunday).
“It is not good for African football to play a tournament that can be washed out, it is not good for Africa and the continent at large, and so we have to postpone it”.
CAF has retained the name AFCON 2023 for sponsorship purposes.