The Africa Cup of Nations (officially CAN or Coupe d’Afrique des Nations in French), also referred to as African Cup of Nations, or AFCON, is Africa’s most internationally-recognised football association competition.

The Ivory Coast (2015), Nigeria (2013), Zambia (2012), Egypt (2010, 2008, 2006) and Tunisia (2004) are the last five nations to have won the Coupe d’Afrique des Nations Trophy. Hervé Renard (Ivory Coast and Zambia), Stephen Keshi (Nigeria), Hassan Shehata (Egypt), and Roger Lemerre (Tunisia) are the sport managers who led these nations to success.

Since it was first held in 1957, the Africa Cup of Nations has been won by 14 different countries, with Egypt (seven-time champions), Ghana and Cameroon (four-time champions each) being the three most successful teams. But what sets these successful football teams apart from the other seven countries that have never won the competition? Is it the great coaches, managers and staff who push their teams and players from the touchline? Or is it something else?

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Maybe it’s the natural talent of great players like Didier Drogba, Yaya Touré, Samuel Eto’o, Hassan El-Shazly, Benni McCarthy, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to name a few.These players set local and international tournaments alight with their audacious skills and breath-taking goals. Could it be the hours of training put in every day, over years of dedication, for the pursuit of national glory? All of these contributing points can be argued and debated, but all hold true in being equal parts of the successful whole.

Whether you aspire to be one of the next great coaches, managers or players, to be successful at an international level you need to understand what it takes. That is the first step in your journey to becoming a pro. Talent is a prerequisite of course, but dedication and sacrifice are the two words you will hear most often amongst experts and stars alike. Step two through twelve include motivation, confidence, training, diet, recovery, tactics and awareness, skill, looking and feeling the part, equipment and kit, focus, and last but not least, making the most of your chance when it comes around.

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The 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, known as the Total Africa Cup of Nations, Gabon 2017 kicked off on 14 January 2017. The tournament consists of 16 teams, with the winners qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. Current title holders, Ivory Coast, are favourites to become back-to-back tournament champions and hope to beat Morocco to keep their dreams alive and progress through to the knockout stage. If they do make it through, they will see stiff competition from Ghana, who are looking to win their fifth title and have already qualified for the knockout stage.

If the beautiful game is what you live for, get all the inspiration, motivation and jaw-dropping skill you can handle when you tune in for the remainder of the tournament. With the host nation, Les Panthères, already knocked out at the group stage, see if Les Éléphants, the Black Stars, or the Lions of Teranga can live up to the hype and take the trophy home. But if just watching from your lounge is not enough for you, and if your dream is to be on the side lines amongst the continent’s football stars as a manager, trainer or coach, then visit our courses page and enrol today for one of our accredited courses in fitness, coaching or management.

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