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Football: Africa Cup winners and losers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Runners-up Burkina Faso were among the success stories of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa while perennial title favourites Ivory Coast headed the list of losers after 'choking' yet again.

WINNERS

BURKINA FASO

Qualifying for final defied logic considering 16 of the 23-man squad were at the 2012 tournament and made a timid first-round exit after three losses in a row. Take a bow, Belgian coach Paul Put, for an amazing transformation.

CAF

Officials from the much-maligned body acted swiftly and correctly over the 'Jdidigate' affair to ensure justice was done and innocent red-card victim Jonathan Pitroipa got to play in the final.

CAPE VERDE

After holding former champions South Africa and Morocco, the 'Blue Sharks' snatched victory over Angola and a last-eight place, and could have beaten Ghana in the quarter-finals with more luck and goalmouth composure.

NIGERIA

Welcome back to the big time, African champions. Coach Stephen Keshi deserves much credit for giving a chance to local stars, with Sunday Mba scoring great winners against Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

REFEREES

While suspended Tunisian Slim Jdidi hogged the headlines and there were several other poor performances, the general standard varied between good and excellent. Too much criticism came from those viewing endless replays.

SPECTATORS

Those lucky to be present for the Ivory Coast-Tunisia, South Africa-Morocco, Ivory Coast-Nigeria and Burkina Faso-Ghana matches will have left the stadia beaming after watching African football at its best.

TV AUDIENCES

Every game in high definition, excellent work by multiple cameramen and knowledgable commentaries and analysis from former stars like Ruud Gullit meant stay-at-home fans received five-star treatment.

LOSERS

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR

Didier Six becomes first coach to take Togo into quarter-finals and what thanks does he get? A verbal lashing from ungrateful stars like Emmanuel Adebayor and Kossi Agassa.

GHANA

Once again among the title favourites and once again semi-final losers to seemingly inferior opponents. Coach Kwesi Appiah and absent Marseille midfield star Andre Ayew need to mend their differences, and quickly.

IVORY COAST

A squad with so many stars like captain Didier Drogba, brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure and Didier Zokora will go down in history as the great Cup of Nations 'chokers', and they have no one but themselves to blame.

MAGHREB

No northern region team in the last eight for the first time since 1992 was a shock. Poor finishing cost Morocco and Tunisia and Algeria, touted as potential champions, were the biggest flops with just one point from a possible nine.

OPENING DAY

It was wet at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, it was cold, and the football was woeful in goalless draws between South Africa and Cape Verde and Angola and Morocco. An evening to forget. Instantly.

SLIM JDIDI

No referee can be expected to get every decision correct, but the unsmiling Tunisian made so many mistakes, from a soft penalty to a red card which never was, that Burkina Faso had to believe they were facing 12 men against Ghana.

ZAMBIA

While it was unrealistic to expect the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) to retain the title won so unexpectedly last year, more was expected of a seemingly stronger squad this year than a meek first round exit.

dl/dj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130211/football-africa-cup-winners-and-losers