Best Player – Victor Moses – Nigeria
Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa may have won the official CAF award but Chelsea’s Victor Moses, the man who arrived in South Africa with some questioning his true international allegiances after previously turning out for England Under-21s, had a fantastic tournament.
Inventive, creative, full of pace and direct running, a real genuine goal threat – almost every defence present at the tournament could not handle the former Crystal Palace attacker at times and his breath-taking display against Mali in the semi-finals will live long in the memory.
Breakthrough Player – Bakary Kone – Burkina Faso
Last year’s Africa Cup of Nations saw Bakary Kone held up as one to watch in the Burkina Faso backline. Recently signed for Lyon, the central defender was tipped to have a huge impact in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. However, Kone, much like the rest of his team, floundered.
One year on however and after a year at the Stade Gerland, Kone appears to have matured into one of Africa’s top defenders and was superb in the Burkinabe’s surprise run to the final. Quick, strong in the tackle and vociferous on the field, we could be hearing a lot more about Kone in the near future.
Best Goal – Yaya Toure – Ivory Coast v Tunisia
The Ivory Coast will not look back on South Africa 2013 too fondly after possibly the final chance for their “Golden Generation” of players to take home the trophy ended in the last eight but at least they can look back at Yaya Toure’s wonderfully curled but driven strike against Tunisia with a degree of happiness.
The Manchester City midfielder failed to truly stamp his authority on the tournament but his game-clinching thunder-strike was one to remember in a tournament littered with long-range efforts.
Biggest Disappointment – Ivory Coast
It is hard to look anywhere else and that arguably has been the case ever since the Elephants arrived in Egypt in 2006 as favourites and failed to take the trophy. Four tournaments on and undoubtedly the best group of players the Ivory Coast has ever had, filled full of Premier League and top level club and international experience, have failed to secure a single continental triumph.
This was seen to be the last chance for many of the now ageing group but Didier Drogba and co. never really turned up, producing four passive performances before deservedly losing out to eventual winners Nigeria in the last eight.
Something to look forward to at Morocco 2015 – The return of Cameroon, Senegal and possibly Egypt
South Africa 2013 was a tournament that arguably did not quite catch fire. Maybe it had simply come too soon after the previous tournament, which was only last year. Perhaps South Africa itself did not have quite the passion for hosting the tournament that it did the World Cup in 2010. Or perhaps it was that simply, the tournament lacked some traditional stellar names.
Yes, the rise of the likes of Burkina Faso and Zambia are fantastic but African football has always thrived on the success of its powerhouses and so the potential returns of Cameroon, Senegal and possibly Egypt to the next tournament in Morocco will be a welcome one.
Team of the Tournament: Enyeama (Nigeria); Diawara (Mali), Kone (Burkina Faso), Nando (Cape Verde), Echiejile (Nigeria); Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Keita (Mali), Kabore (Burkina Faso); Moses (Nigeria), Emenike (Nigeria), Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)
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