All African national football teams’ nicknames

Nancy Marende

Football, as a sport, plays an important role in cultures across Africa. The passion swelling in designated stadia during The CAF Africa Cup of Nations explains why all African national football teams have nicknames.

In fact, most of these teams are recognized locally by their nicknames instead of their official country name.

How do African teams come up with the nicknames?

The nicknames of African football teams reflect the rich African culture. Different countries have different references and inspirations behind their national soccer teams’ nicknames.

For example, some of the names of African national teams have a wildlife reference, like The Lions of Teranga from Senegal and DRC’s Leopards.

Other nicknames for African football teams carry with them the history of the country. The Pharaohs from Egypt and Morocco’s Lions of Chinguetti (Men’s team) and Mourabitounes (women’s team) stand out in this regard.

Some of the African national football teams’ nicknames are more intimidating and imposing, like the Indomitable Lions from Cameroon, with five AFCON titles and three podium finishes.

Cameroon national football team line up

Some nicknames have a native reference to the country. For instance, the Comoros national football team have adopted their nickname “the Coelacanths” from an endangered species of exotic fish species believed to come from the region.

Teams like South Africa’s Bafana Bafana got their nickname from the fans. The name Bafana directly translates to “Boys”. The South African women’s national football team go by Banyana Banyana.

All African National teams and their nicknames

TeamNicknameTeamNickname
AlgeriaDesert FightersLibyaThe Mediterranean Knights
AngolaThe Sable AntelopesMadagascarThe Barea
BeninThe SquirrelsMaliThe Eagles
BotswanaThe ZebrasMauritiusThe Dogs
Burkina FasoThe StallionsMoroccoThe Atlas Lions
BurundiThe SwallowsMozambiqueThe Mambas
Central African RepublicThe Big CatsNigerThe Mena
Cape VerdeThe Blue SharksNigeriaThe Super Eagles
DjiboutiRiverains de la Mer Rouge (“Shoremen of the Red Sea”)NamibiaBrave Warriors
EritreaThe CamelsRwandaThe Wasps (Men’s team) and She-Amavubi (Women’s team)
EthiopiaThe Walia (Men’s team), Lucy (Women’s team)SudanThe Nile Crocodile (Mean’s team) and The Challenge / Al-Tahadi (women’s team)
GabonThe Black PanthersSierra LeoneThe Leones Stars
GambiaThe ScorpionsSomaliOcean Stars
GuineaNational ElephantsSouth SudanBright Stars
Guinea BissauThe African DogsSwazilandSuper Falcons
GhanaThe Black Stars (Men’s Team), the Black Queens (Women’s team)TogoThe Sparrow Hawks
Ivory CoastThe ElephantsTunisiaThe Carthege Eagles
KenyaHarambee Stars (Men) and Harambee Starlets (Women)TanzaniaTaifa or Kilimanjaro stars
LesothoThe CrocodilesUgandaThe Cranes
LiberiaLone StarsZambiaCopper Bullets

Some of these nicknames have become more famous than the official names of African national teams.

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Teams like Harambee Stars from Kenya are always referred to by their nickname, as is the Women’s team, Harambee Starlets.

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