Awesome African Football Nicknames

It’s not often you’ll find a football team that doesn’t have a nickname. In the Premier League you have the Reds, the Blues, the Red Devils and the Toffees, internationally you have the Socceroos, the Three Lions and Les Bleus.

But very few international football teams have nicknames that are as meaningful as teams on the African continent. African countries, and the supporters who passionately follow their team, attach a great deal of emotion and significance to their team’s name.

Check out some of the better nicknames attributed to some of the popular teams in Africa.

Bafana Bafana – South Africa

Thulani Hlatshwayo celebratingImage source:

Bafana Bafana – which literally translates to The Boys, The Boys was a term coined by three Sowetan sports journalists and was used to refer to the national team. The nickname grew in popularity, and has since become the way the side is affectionately referred to. In June 2011, the South African Football Association (SAFA) paid R5 million (approximately NGN 124.9 million) to Stanton Woodrush for the rights to own the name Bafana Bafana, after the company registered the name as a brand in 1993.

The Elephants – Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast goal celebration
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Appropriately, the Ivory Coast, one of the most powerful football teams on the African continent, is nicknamed after the mighty elephant. Due to the country’s roaring 19th century ivory trade the elephant is seen as the national animal of the Ivory Coast, and is represented in the country’s Coat of Arms. Despite their strength on the football field, and a list of big names such as Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, the Elephants have only won the Africa Cup of Nations twice, once in 1992 and again in 2015.

The Pharaohs – Egypt

Mo Salah scores for Egypt
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Pharaohs were powerful Egyptian kings and queens who were worshipped as gods on earth. It is fitting that the Egyptian football team, one of the best teams in Africa, share a name with the rulers of the North-African country. Egypt has achieved more success than any other team in the Africa Cup of Nations, lifting the trophy seven times in total, the most recent of which was in 2010.

The Indomitable Lions – Cameroon

Cameroon vs Kuwait
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The definition of indomitable perfectly describes the Cameroonian football team. They are impossible to subdue and are extremely difficult to defeat. Named after the king of the jungle, Cameroon was affectionately known as the Lions until they finished third at the 1972 AFCON on home soil. In a bid to revive national pride, then-president Ahmadou Ahidjo renamed the team the Indomitable Lions.

With five AFCON titles to their name and a long list of big names who have represented the nation, the Indomitable Lions promise to be a dominating force in African football for years to come.

Chipolopolo (the Copper Bullets) – Zambia

Zambia ready to face Malawi
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Nothing says “we mean business” quite like naming your team after a bullet. Chipolopolo translates to Copper Bullets and originates from the copper mines in Kitwe. Much like a bullet in flight, the Zambians flew straight and true to their first AFCON title in 2012, demolishing everything in their path. They remained undefeated in the tournament and put in impressive performances against the likes of Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

The Black Stars – Ghana

Ghana AFCON 2017
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Their nickname originated from the black star that sits in the middle of the Ghanaian national flag. The Ghanaian Football Association decided to adopt the nickname as they believed that it would foster unity in the country. Despite winning four AFCON titles, the Black Stars have struggled in recent years. The last time they lifted the AFCON trophy was in 1982.

The Super Eagles – Nigeria

Nigeria FIFA World Cup 2018
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Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Super Eagles. Arguably the most well-known nickname on the African continent, Nigeria’s nickname pays homage to the eagle in the country’s Coat of Arms. Previously known as the Green Eagles, the name was changed following a controversial loss to Cameroon in the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations final. The Super Eagles have won the Africa Cup of Nations three times – in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
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Nicknames tell amazing stories and symbolize fierce patriotism among players, coaches and fans alike. Much like the African culture – nicknames are often strong, colourful and unique. It’s time to show your support and back your favourite footballing giant.

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Published: 11/01/2018