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African Cup of Nation: Some of the most memorable shirts of the past and present

See some of the most memorable shirts won in the AFCON in the past and have a feel of what to expect in the tourney later this month

When any football tournament rolls around, supporters are just as concerned about what strip their side will wear as as they are about who will be in the starting XI.

The 2023 Afcon kicks off in Ivory Coast on 13 January, inspired by an article by Livescore’s Sports writer Cian Cheesbrough, together we have put out a tailor-made list of the top five eye-catching shirts worn over the years.

In the past, the Africa Cup of Nations has dished up plenty of sartorial highlights over the 30 years of the continent’s showpiece event. And, with retro kits back in fashion, several have become collector’s items.

Cameroon (Home, 2002)

 

Cameroon lifted their fourth of five AFCON titles in 2002 but the kit they wore is perhaps more memorable than the campaign itself.

The Indomitable Lions surprised many when Samuel Eto’o and Co lined up for their opener against DR Congo wearing sleeveless shirts — a style more akin to basketball than football.

Cameroon (Home)
Cameroon lifted the Afcon title in 2002 in a sleeveless kit which made headlines

Nigeria (Home, 2019)

 

Nigeria shirts often fly off the shelves when released, however, the kits worn during the 2018 World Cup and 2019 AFCON caused frenzy across social media.

Their design for the 2018 World Cup led to long queues outside stores and almost broke the internet, with three million people pre-ordering the replica.

“If you know anything about football shirts, you’ll know just how insanely popular Nigeria’s 2018 jersey was,” Warwick says.

“Nike paid homage to the shirt worn by the Super Eagles at USA 94 – the first time the nation appeared at a World Cup – and it became an instant classic.”

The west Africans wore the same design at the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, where striker Odion Ighalo top-scored with five goals as Nigeria finished third.

Nigeria (Home)
The jersey released in 2018 by Nike was always a classic 

Mali (Home, 2021)

 

Next comes a shirt that will be worn at this year’s tournament and one that features a giant bird on the front — making it a sure-fire pick in this list.

Mali often celebrate their national symbol of the eagle on their shirts in some way and this year they placed it slap bang in the centre.

Mali (Home)
The green, gold and red colours stripes of the Malian National team

South Africa (Away, 1996)

 

South Africa made their Afcon debut as hosts in 1996, after being excluded during the apartheid era, sporting a kit described as an “absolute mayhem.” 

The kit was also brilliantly worn by the country’s then President, Nelson Mandela, spurring it’s chaotic yellow, black and white strip as he watched Bafana Bafana lift the trophy — much like he had done with the Springboks a year earlier.

South Africa (Home stripes, 1996)
Nelson Mandela in the famous South Africa’s yellow and black stripes as they crowned 1996 Afcon champions

 

Tunisia (Away, 2010)

 

Tunisia are among the long list of stylish football shirts that feature a sash on the front.

The gold trim on the collar and sash is another nice feature of the North African nation’s jersey from 2010.

Tunisia (Away, 2010)
Another yet simple and classy design by Tunisia for their away shirt at the 2010 tournament

It’s an absolute, undisputed fact that a sash makes any shirt look amazing and that’s definitely the case here.

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