Nigeria upset the form book in 2013 to win a third Africa Cup of Nations after a 19-year wait, while Egypt’s Al Ahly extended their dominance at club level.
The Super Eagles further underlined their resurgence by qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil with Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria.
At the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, Ivory Coast’s so-called “Golden Generation”, led by the inspirational Didier Drogba, were again favourites to win a second trophy.
But Nigeria, who had struggled in the early stages of the competition and even failed to qualify for the 2012 edition, beat them 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
The Super Eagles went on to pip surprise finalists Burkina Faso 1-0 to be crowned champions 19 years after their last triumph in 1994.
“I have made true my dream to return Nigeria to the top,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said afterwards, as he became only the second person to win the tournament both as a player and coach.
The future also looked bright for Nigeria as the country’s junior team won a record fourth Fifa under-17 World Cup in November.
As in 1994, Nigeria will be at the World Cup finals as African champions.
The “Black Stars” of Ghana qualified for their third straight World Cup after a 7-3 aggregate win over Egypt, who again failed to reach football’s showpiece tournament.
Ghana were Africa’s most successful team at the 2010 edition after they reached the last eight, equalling the performance of Cameroon and Senegal in 1990 and 2002 respectively.
But they face a tough first round group in Brazil that includes Germany, the United States and Portugal.
“We have a good team and with proper preparation and support, we will make Africa proud in Brazil,” said Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah.
“We have the experience and youth having gained a lot of experience at the last two World Cups.”
Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure meanwhile is poised to win a third straight Confederation of African Football (Caf) African Footballer of the Year on the back of his exploits with Manchester City.
The 30-year-old is vying for the award with the likes of Nigeria’s Emmanuel Emenike and John Mikel Obi as well as Asamoah Gyan of Ghana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Gabon.
The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on January 9 in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.
In Africa’s premier club competition, Egypt’s Al Ahly won their eighth Caf Champions League, defeating Orlando Pirates of South Africa in the final.
The legendary Mohamed Aboutrika scored in both legs of the final, foiling Pirates’ attempt to secure their second continental trophy after winning in 1995.
But they faced more experienced campaigners who knew what they needed to do to win.
In Africa’s second-tier competition, CS Sfaxien of Tunisia ended 2013 with their third Caf Confederation Cup after they edged past TP Mazembe of DR Congo 3-2 on aggregate.
Morocco also made history by becoming the first African country to host the 2013 Fifa Club World Cup, which had previously been hosted by Japan and the United Arab Emirates.