The African Nations Championship, not to be confused with the Africa Cup of Nations, is a football tournament which was first announced in 2007.
It is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season.
Expatriate players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, may not qualify to take part in the African Championship of Nations. It takes place every two years in the year between the gap of two Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which also occurs once every two years.
The reason the fans love this tournament so much is partly because it's just more football but because professional players who play abroad (from their home nation, not Africa alone) are not allowed to play.
For example, if a Ghana player played his football professionally in South Africa, he is not allowed to play. So with this in mind it gives the fans and team managers the chance to see players who may otherwise be looked over in squads for the upcoming World Cup, or indeed the Africa Cup of Nations. It gives them some more experience of tournament life.
Now while fans would much rather win the Africa Cup of Nations and hopefully one day a World Cup, it's still very important to the fans. So when Libya won the tournament you can only imagine the joy felt by the supporters after a long hard few years with a civil war in 2011 and many other hardships on the way up until now, and continuing.
This being the third tournament, the last two winners have been Congo DR (2009) and Tunisia (2011), both countries who have also had very strenuous times in the past.
Tunisia's win coming just 20 days after a revolution in which 338 people died. It's no coincidence that these kind of teams are winning these tournaments.
The players are the fans, they play in their country,they understand what's going on and the hard times their fans and themselves are going through and they play to win, that's why this tournament is looked so highly upon in Africa.
The 2014 tournament was supposed to be held in Libya but they had the hosting honours taken away due to the struggles in Libya and the new hosts would be 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa.
The first big shock was Zimbabwe who qualified from a three game group by scoring one goal.
They beat Burkina Faso 1-0 and drew 0-0 with both Morocco and Uganda. Another big shock was the elimination of hosts South Africa as they went out in the group, finishing third in Group A after Nigeria beat them to second spot.
This was such a big shock because of the reputation and quality of South Africa's domestic football.
Easily the highest quality in the southern half of Africa and the most watched African division, however the national league did not pause during the tournament.
Many clubs wouldn't release their players. Ghana then beat former champions DR Congo and one of the favourites, Nigeria to face Libya in the final. Libya beat Gabon and then Zimbabwe to set up their match vs.Ghana in the final.
Both semi finals finished 0-0 and were decided on penalties as was the final, not really what African football is famous for but Libya won't care as they capture the 2014 African Nations Championship.
Player of the tournament went to Nigeria's former Stade Rennais winger Ejike Uzoenyi, after his three goals.
The golden boot went to South Africa's main man Bernard Parker, a former FC Twente striker now playing for Kaizer Chiefs, who scored four goals, all in the group stages. $3,200,000 will be paid out to all the teams to cover players and other costs, $750,000 of which will go to winners Libya. 73 goals (2.35 per match) were scored over the 31 games played.
Whilst yes, the quality isn't the highest and yes, a lot of players are unprofessional. It is still a great stage for the players to play at and it is still a lot of fun for the fans of Africa.
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