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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January 2004, 12:27 GMT
The early years
Mahmoud El-Gohary
Mahmoud El-Gohary was a member of Egypt's 1959 winning team
African football was still in its infancy when the Confederation of African Football (Caf) staged the inaugural Nations Cup in February 1957.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia took part in the first tournament after South Africa were expelled for refusing to send a mixed-race team to Sudan.

In the final, Egypt thrashed Sudan 4-0 to become the first ever African champions.

Two years later, Egypt, inspired by Mahmoud El-Gohary, successfully defended their title in Cairo in a tournament featuring the same three sides from 1957.

The 1960s were a time of great expansion for Caf, and a decade when the Nations Cup also grew in importance.

Ethiopia held the third finals in 1962, with Tunisia and Uganda taking part for the first time.

The hosts proved unstoppable in Addis Ababa and came from behind twice to beat Egypt 4-2 after extra-time.

Ghana made their debut as they hosted the 1963 edition. Coached by the great Charles Gyamfi, the Black Stars turned on the style to beat Sudan 3-0 in the final in Accra.

In 1965, Ghana successfully defended their title in Tunisia, defeating the fancied hosts 3-2 after extra-time. They fielded just two players from their 1963 winning team.

Charles Gyamfi, Ghana's 1963 coach
Charles Gyamfi coached Ghana to victory in the 1963 edition
Reflecting the growth of the game on the continent, the 1968 finals in Ethiopia featured eight teams after incorporating a full qualifying tournament.

Congo-Brazzaville made their Nations Cup bow, but it was Congo-Kinshasa who met Ghana in the final. Pierre Kalala's goal settled the contest in Congo's favour.

Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast striker Laurent Pokou helped himself to six goals - two short of the tally he would reach in the first tournament of the new decade.

The 1970 tournament in Sudan heralded the introduction of television coverage for the finals.

Holders Zaire crashed out in the first round while Ghana reached their fourth straight final.

But the Black Stars were undone by El Issed's goal which handed Sudan their only Nations Cup triumph to date.

Having made their debut in 1970, Cameroon hosted the 1972 finals and reached the semis where they surprisingly lost to Congo. In a final few had predicted, Congo beat Mali 3-2.

The 1974 finals, hosted by Egypt, were boosted by the presence of Zaire, who later that year became the first African side to play at the World Cup finals.

Pierre Ndiaye scored a record nine goals as he inspired the Leopards to the final, where Zambia featured for the first time. For the first and only time, the final went to a replay with the scores level at 2-2 after extra time.

Former Zaire president Mobutu
The 1974 Leopards got presidential treatment from Mobutu Sese Seko
Ndiaye netted twice in the replay to wrap up a 2-0 victory. Afterwards, President Mobutu Sese Seko ferried the Leopards home aboard his presidential jet.

Ethiopia hosted the 1976 competition which was held on a round-robin format, with Morocco seeing off the challenge of Egypt, Nigeria and Guinea.

Ghana hosted the 1978 finals and beat Uganda 2-0 to become the first country to win the tournament three times, and thus retire the Abdelaziz Salem trophy.

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