What is the difference between CHAN and AFCON?

John Dennis

CHAN and AFCON are the two biggest football competitions in Africa.

CHAN alternates with AFCON every two years. The winner in either competition gets crowned as an African champion. But that is where many people need clarification about CHAN vs AFCON.

Teams participating in CHAN can only pick home-grown players who play in their respective countries’ national leagues. Therefore, any African player playing internationally (in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia) is not eligible for selection.

On the other hand, the African Cup of Nations allows for the selection of any players, including those playing locally and abroad.

Although CHAN is for domestic players, all matches count as international caps for each player participating in the tournament. A player can miss selection in AFCON but can still be capped for representing their country at CHAN.

Apart from the selection, isn’t CHAN the same as AFCON in all the other aspects? Well, there are a couple of differences in the format, prize money, and purpose, among others.

When was CHAN founded?

CAF, mandated to oversee African football, conceptualised CHAN in 2007.

The goal was to give homegrown players playing in national leagues a chance to shine on an international stage. Also, CAF wanted to promote African players and leagues globally.

In January 2008, CAF approved and confirmed the tournament, with Ivory Coast selected to host the first-ever CHAN tournament. Subsequently, the CHAN qualifiers began in March of the same year.

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The first CHAN tournament started on 22 February 2009 in Abidjan. Only eight teams qualified for the inaugural competition, including Ivory Coast (the hosts), Libya, Senegal, Ghana, DR Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Difference between CHAN and AFCON

CHAN and AFCON may sound similar because they are under CAF. However, the two competitions are different.

CHANAFCON
PlayersOnly those playing in domestic leagues.All African players no matter where they play club football.
Prize money $2 million$5 million
GoalPromote local players and leagues.Give countries the prestige of being African football champions
Participation18 teams24 teams

Although the two competitions differ, they are recognised by FIFA, and players receive international caps for appearing in either tournament.

What is the prize money for the CHAN compared to AFCON?

The CHAN prize money has increased over time. For example, the CHAN winners in 2020, Morocco, received $1,250,000. The amount increased to $2 million in 2022 when Senegal won.

On the other hand, the 2021 AFCON winner, Senegal, received $5 million for participating in the competition in Cameroon. The amount was an increase of $500,000 because Egypt received $4.5 million when it won the tournament in 2019.

How many teams qualify for CHAN?

The inaugural CHAN finals only had eight teams. Ivory Coast was the hosting nation and was joined by seven others that qualified for the 2009 event. The seven nations were Libya, Senegal, Ghana, DR Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

When Sudan hosted the second CHAN edition in 2011, CAF expanded the number of countries from eight to 16. Tunisia won the 2011 CHAN tournament.

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The 2022 CHAN edition was expanded to accommodate 18 teams from 16. Senegal won CHAN 2022.

Senegal celebrating their win at CHAN

However, there is a growing interest in CHAN across Africa, and the numbers could increase in future competitions

Is CHAN recognized by FIFA?

Before 2014, FIFA did not recognise CHAN despite the competition running for four years. Then, in 2014, FIFA officially recognised CHAN as an international tournament.

The recognition means all CHAN matches and their results are eligible for FIFA Rankings. Also, players in CHAN tournaments get international caps even if they fail to play at AFCON.

The recognition of CHAN by FIFA helps solve the problem Algeria faced with its unbeaten run. On 16 January 2022, Algeria lost 1-0 to Equatorial Guinea during the 2022 AFCON tournament in Cameroon.

According to the Algerian football association, the 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea ended the country’s unbeaten streak of 35 games, which is one of the longest in international football. However, FIFA quickly pointed out Algeria’s unbeaten run was 25 games.

FIFA counted a match whereby Algeria lost 3-0 to Morocco on 19 October 2019 during a CHAN qualification game. That meant FIFA had officially recognised CHAN as an international tournament.

However, the Algerian football association did not consider the game because not all its international players participated. 

Have your say

Do you think has CHAN benefited African players since its inception compared to AFCON? Share your views with us.

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