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CAN 2022 national team nicknames: explaining the origin history of country nicknames

National team nicknames are always fascinating no matter what part of the world they come from: these nicknames often reflect deep roots and important aspects of the culture, social setting or national history of the people who live there.

The African Confederation is home to some of the most fascinating, unique and interesting national team nicknames in the world. Below is a quick reference guide to each participant’s nicknames, followed by a breakdown of the more unique ones you’re likely to see deep down in the tournament.

Nicknames of CAN 2022 national teams by country

Here are the popular nicknames of each of the 24 participants in the Africa Cup of Nations which takes place from January 9 to February 6 in Cameroon.

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Country Nickname
Algeria Les Fennecs (The Foxes)
Fennec foxes
Desert warriors
Desert foxes
Burkina Faso The Stallions (The Stallions)
Cameroon Indomitable lions
Green cap Tubaroes Azuis (blue sharks)
Comoros The Coelecantes (The Coelacanthes)
Egypt the pharaohs
Equatorial Guinea Nzalang Nacional (national lightning)
Ethiopia Walias
Gabon The Pantheres
Gambia Scorpions
Ghana Black stars
Guinea Syli Nationale (National Elephants)
Guinea-Bissau Djurtus
Ivory Coast The elephants
Malawi Flames
Mali The Eagles
Mauritania Al-Murabitun / Almoravides (Lions of Chinguetti)
Morocco Atlas Lions
Nigeria Super eagles
Senegal Lions of Teranga
Sierra Leone Star leone
Sudan Jediane’s Falcons
Tunisia Eagles of Carthage
Zimbabwe The Warriors

The best nicknames of CAN 2022 explained

Cameroon: Indomitable Lions

This year’s host Cameroon hopes to regain some of the glory of yesteryear. The recognizable moniker was born out of a kind of rebranding. Originally known as Lions – a nod to the royal animal that lives mainly in the semi-arid regions of the north of the country – President Ahmadou Ahidjo changed things slightly in 1972. He changed the name to “Indomitable Lions” in hopes of giving the team a little more impressive and recognizable status. “Indomitable” means by definition “impossible to subdue or to overcome”.

Cameroon was once the pride of Africa in the ’80s and’ 90s, highlighted by the 1982 Men’s World Cup (three impressive group stage draws) and the 1990 World Cup (place in quarter-finals), as well as their African Cup of Nations victories in 1988, 2000, and 2002. However, things have fallen flat for Cameroon in recent times, with corruption and conflict plaguing the league. national and national team over the past decade.

Senegal: Lions of Teranga

The Senegalese nickname is closely linked to the history of the country. “Teranga” is a word from the country’s lingua franca, or “language of connection,” known as Wolof. According to New York-based Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam quoted by the BBC in 2020, while the official translation of “teranga” is “hospitality”, this definition is “a vague way of translating it.” It really is much more complex than that. It’s a way of life. “

Thus, the name is a nod to the country’s heritage. Lions are originally from Senegal, although their numbers – as in Cameroon – have declined dramatically. The last remaining known lion population is located in Niokolo-Koba National Park on the banks of the Gambia River.

Algeria: Foxes Fennec

While other countries like Cameroon have opted for more intimidating and imposing nicknames, Algeria has adopted a cuter and hairier part of its national heritage. The fennec fox, a subspecies of fox native to the Sahara Desert, is Algeria’s national animal and therefore has made it the perfect nickname. It was even featured on the 2010 jersey shown below.

A fennec fox is known for its peculiarity: its massive ears. These serve to dissipate heat and help the fox survive in the arid climates in which it resides. Expect to hear this name regularly throughout the tournament month, with Algeria being the defending champion and one of the favorites.

CAN 2022 national team nicknames: explaining the origin history of country nicknames
(Getty Images)

Tunisia: Eagles of Carthage

Like Cameroon, Tunisia took a well-known animal and added a bit of flair. Carthage was the coastal capital of the Carthaginian civilization, an ancient flourishing civilization that resided in today’s Tunisia. The city was sacked and destroyed by the Roman Empire, leaving ruins that can still be visited today.

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The reference to the eagle evokes power, royalty and superiority. Two other countries, Mali and Nigeria, also have nicknames referring to the eagle, but neither directly refer to the country’s past, which gives Tunisia’s nickname a unique distinction.

Egypt: The Pharaohs

While other nicknames require research to discern their history and meaning, this one is straightforward. The Egyptian team, known for their great pyramids, is known as the Pharaohs, a nod to the country’s ancient monarchs.

The pharaohs were considered messengers of the gods and therefore had the divine right to rule the people. As one of the most decorated African confederations – the continent’s first representatives at the World Cup in 1934 and winners of the most AFCON tournaments – they have also won the title of African football monarchs.

Comoros: Coelacanths

The country first: the Comoros are a small island nation located between mainland Africa and Madagascar. Listed with a population of just over 850,000 in 2019, the nation is made up of three main volcanic islands that, when put together, are roughly the same size as the Hawaiian island of Maui. The country shocked the African landscape as it qualified for the tournament finishing second in Group G, finishing just three points behind Egypt and two points ahead of Kenya. This will be the first AFCON tournament for the Comoros.

Now to the nickname. Pronounced “SEEL-uh-kanth”, this massive species has an absolutely fascinating – and long – history. According to scientific classification, the coelacanth is more closely related to amphibians and birds than to ray-finned fish. The six-foot, 200-pound fish was thought to have become extinct 66 million years ago, until one was rediscovered off the coast of South Africa. They are estimated to live around 100 years and inhabit the waters around the islands of the Comoros, swimming about 2,300 feet below the surface.

CAN 2022 national team nicknames: explaining the origin history of country nicknames
(Getty Images)

Equatorial Guinea: Nzalang Nacional

While we translated the other national nicknames from the local language, this one was left in his native language, Fang, which is a Central African dialect spoken mainly in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and southern Cameroon. While most English versions of the name have translated it as “The National Thunder”, it actually seems to translate better to “The National Lightning”.

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The name refers to the severe storms experienced during the rainy season, which despite the tiny nature of the nation the size of Massachusetts, are completely reversed depending on your location. If you are on the mainland, the rainy season is more traditional from March to May and / or from September to November depending on the year. However, on Bioko Island, located off the coast of Cameroon but officially part of Equatorial Guinea, the rainy season is reversed, with rainfall concentrated mainly from November to March.

Ethiopia: Walias

An African federation with a rich history, Ethiopia was one of three African nations to participate in the very first CAN tournament in 1957 and won the competition in 1962 as a host. Since 1970, however, the nation has qualified for only three editions of the competition, so it is an exciting time for Ethiopia.

Interestingly, among the 31 Ethiopian endemic species known to the East African nation, the federation chose the Walia Ibex to represent their team, rather than the more famous and intimidating Ethiopian wolf. An ibex is an endangered species of wild goat, with only 500 Walias estimated to remain in the mountains of Ethiopia. However, the choice of the mascot enabled the nation to secure sponsorship with Walia beer.

Malawi: Flames

This moniker sounds boring, like your typical high school mascot, but it actually evokes a bit of national pride. The country itself is largely made up of Lake Malawi. The word “Malawi” is derived from the Bantu dialect known as Chewa, where the word “Maravi” means “flames”. The lake, and by proxy the country, was named for the shimmering effect the lake gives off when hit by the sun.

Lake Malawi, sometimes known as Calendar Lake because it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide, makes up almost a quarter of the entire landlocked nation, so its history is central to the culture of the nation.

Guinea-Bissau: Djurtus

Oh great, another animal we’ve never heard of. Don’t worry, this one is a lot cuter than a giant fish, although a lot more dangerous too.

Guinea-Bissau – not to be confused with Guinea – is a small nation on the west coast of Africa about the size of Maryland. It was home to the African wild dog, otherwise known as Djurtus in the local Portuguese Creole dialect. It is closely related to a Dhole, another endangered wild dog species that lives in Asia. Sadly, the Djurtu is believed to be extinct in Guinea-Bissau, with the few remaining animals scattered across the eastern part of the continent, but this vicious animal still represents an intimidating presence, while the name itself is a call to the tongue. local.

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