young stars bring hope

LUANDA - The 2010 Africa Cup of Nations delivered the good, the bad and the ugly before Egypt overcame Ghana in a dour final to secure a record third consecutive title.

LUANDA - The 2010 Africa Cup of Nations delivered the good, the bad and the ugly before Egypt overcame Ghana in a dour final to secure a record third consecutive title.

Algeria edged overwhelming title favourites Ivory Coast 3-2 in a quarterfinal epic while Mali staged a hard-to-believe four-goal comeback to draw with Angola in a sensational tournament opener.

There were too many bad matches, especially for those whose memories of the sparkling 2008 tournament in Ghana had not faded, with the 0-0 quarterfinal between Nigeria and Zambia the worst as it lasted longer than any other.

Terrorism, a welcome absentee from the 53-year tournament, finally reared its ugly head two days before the 2010 event with two members of the Togo delegation murdered when a bus convoy was ambushed in Cabinda.

AFP highlights some of the winners and losers from the 2010 Afcon:

Winners

Egypt - An ageing squad defied the odds again to claim a record third consecutive title by winning all six matches. Their victims included 2010 World Cup qualifiers Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana plus Mozambique and Benin.

Ahmed Hassan - Overtook retired Egyptian compatriot Hossam Hassan as the most capped African footballer and is now 10 national team appearances away from the world record held by former Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohamed al-Deayea.

Ghana - Getting to the final minus their first-choice central defenders and entire midfield because of injuries was little short of miraculous and these young fighters will be a side to watch come the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Algeria and Ivory Coast - Produced the match of the tournament, a five-goal quarterfinal epic that ranks among the great Afcon encounters, with Algeria coming from behind twice before winning via a Hameur Bouazza extra-time header.

Mali - It never happened before in Afcon and it may never happened again. With 79 minutes gone Angola were leading Mali 4-0 in the tournament opener. When the full-time whistle blew the scoreboard read 4-4 and Luanda was dumbstruck.

Zambia - Fought well above their weight under young French coach Herve Renard to top a group that included Cameroon, Tunisia and Gabon before outplaying Nigeria in a quarterfinal only to be betrayed by feeble finishing.

Losers

Togo - Two delegation members shot dead ... another severely injured ... the team disqualified after flying home ... and later barred from next two editions because of government interference in the decision to quit Angola.

Nigeria - Second best against Egypt, lucky against Benin, ultimately promising against Mozambique, woeful against Zambia, wasteful against Ghana.

Surely the serial third-place finishers can do better?

Algeria - After bringing glory to African football in the quarterfinals, they shamed the continent with three semifinal dismissals against Egypt and the crazy Nadir Belhadj challenge for the second red deserves a lengthy ban. - Sapa-AFP

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