NAIROBI, January 26 – With the last four of the 2010 African Cup of Nations decided, its fair to say that the Angola tourney has been entertaining with shocks and surprises making up for what has been lacking in terms of quality.But the performances of the so called big name players has stood out like a sore thumb.
Lauded before the tournament, the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Manucho, Alex Song have been anything but impressive.
A powerful force for Chelsea, Drogba has looked strangely off the pace-disinterested almost, barely breaking sweat and its no coincidence that sections of the Ivorian media have picked on him.
Deployed in a withdrawn role, Eto’o has lacked his characteristic explosiveness. There is none of the fierce and precise finishing that he demonstrated in Egypt four years ago or in Ghana in 08.
Yaya Toure’s poor form has been the most marked. Elegant and poised in Ghana two years ago, the giant midfielder has been a pale shadow of himself. Could this be as a result of warming the bench for most of the season at Barcelona?
Their collective average performance has partly been to blame for the mediocre quality of matches. Other than the thrilling Ivory Coast Algeria quarterfinal, there have not been super high quality performances especially from the so called big teams.
The exception to the rule has been two veterans as Karim Ziani and Ahmed Hassan have led by example. Now in his eighth Cup of Nations, 35 year old Hassan has kept the Pharaohs ticking with his passing and movement that belie his advancing years.
Wolfsburg based Ziani has been key to the resurgence of the Desert Warriors. Tricky and with an eye for a pass, he was at the heart of their 3-2 win over Ivory Coast.
And with most of the big guns failing to fire, it has been left to little known players to entertain. Jacob Mulenga of Zambia has shown good touches while at left back 16 year old Emmanuel Mbola has impressed.
Benin may have been knocked out but Razzak Omotoyossi and Sessegnon were a joy to watch.
With World Cup barely three months away, African football fans will be hoping that Eto’o and company are reserving their best for South Africa.