Afcon 2013: Highs and lows
The 2013 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations has undoubtedly reached fever-pitch. Fraught with unexpected upsets and the occasional fairytale, the tournament barrels towards the finals at full steam as the continent anticipates an electrifying clash.

We take a quick look at some of the interesting highlights that have given colour to the tournament.

Support from the Prez
President Jacob Zuma’s backing of the tournament and the national team was rather impressive. The nation saw him pay Bafana Bafana a visit during training on the eve of the start of the competition.

Zuma lifted a flame after the opening ceremony and also made an appearance at the ill-fated quarter finals match between South Africa and Mali at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Celebs come to play
Themed "Celebrate Africa – The beat at Africa’s feet", the Afcon 2013 opening ceremony was a star-studded blend of African artists, including Kenya’s soulful Eric Wainaina and Grammy Award winner Oumou Sangaré from Mali.

Billed as one of the performers at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ball in Washington DC, South African songstress Lira performed at the opening ceremony.

Fans cheered and vuvuzelas blasted as Oscar Pistorius walked on the field with the iconic trophy in his hands. Scooping yet another milestone, the celebrated gold-medalist features in DStv’s Every Night is Oscar Night campaign which kicked off on 1 February 2013 on M-Net Movies Showcase and M-Net Movies Premiere.

Bafana Bafana's top goal scorer Benni McCarthy turned rapper as he released a rap single titled Viva Africa dedicated to "Team Bafana" and the Africa Nations Cup tournament.

Champs and favourites fail

Going into the tournament as one of the favourites, Chipolopolo swiftly dashed all hope they would progress to the final stages.

Their shock exit, however, gives Zambia the honours of being the first African champions to bow out at the group stages since 1992 when defending champs Algeria were eliminated after winning the title in 1990.

The Ivorian national football team and the South African cricket team have one thing in common - and that is failing to win major tournaments.

The Elephants once again came into the Afcon competition as favorites but lost out in the quarter finals to Nigeria. It seems like Didier Drogba will never get a chance to lift the Afcon trophy, a pity for a player that has represented his country 95 times scoring 60 goals.

Cape Verde live the dream
Cape Verde’s Afcon 2013 fairytale had scores of supporters and pundits inspired. The Afcon debutants not only had their female fans swooning, they managed to get top teams Morocco and Angola shaking in their boots.

A majority of people on the continent did not expect Cape Verde to win a game let alone make it to the quarterfinals, but as a result of determination the Blue Sharks showed character and achieved the seemingly impossible. The islanders’ run in the competition was a true Cinderella story. 

Cape Verde coach, Lucio Antunes, a full-time air traffic controller, has been dubbed "Africa’s Jose Mourinho", and emerged as one of the personalities of the competition after a string of colourful statements. His boisterous run with the Cape Verdean national flag was very reminiscent of Mourinho's own episode across a soaked Camp Nou pitch in 2010. At the end of one of his news conferences Antunes picked up a reporter's phone and loudly shouted into it: "Hi, Jose."

Pitch bitch
Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit came under some stern criticism. A number of teams were unhappy over the uneven field, which made it difficult for them to play their normal passing games.

Controversial Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor fiercely criticised the pitch at Mbombela Stadium, saying the field badly undermined African football and will lead people in Europe to think the teams are playing "in the bush".

In the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Burkina Faso, The Tottenham striker also laid into coach Togo Didier Six. “The coach was not a help! I tried to do my best, but it’s true he didn’t help us,” he moaned.

Fine for fan fury
Ethiopia were fined $10 000, half suspended, for fan misbehavior during their opening African Nations Cup match against Zambia in Nelspruit.

Fans got peeved and threw missiles and vuvuzelas onto the pitch after goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was red-carded shortly before half time for a flying kick on Zambia’s Chisamba Lungu.

Meanwhile, a two Congolese spectators managed to make it onto the field of play at different times during the match between Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Super Eagles soar
After disappointing draws against Burkina Faso and Zambia, The Super Eagles looked to be on the way out of the tournament. A sudden resurgence, however, has re-invigorated the team and their fans, with many now believing Nigeria will walk away with the title.

“I don’t really see any team that can withstand Nigeria for the rest of the tournament,” said Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba after their 2-1 defeat to the Super Eagles. “They keep improving by each game and level of the competition.”

A small step for Bafana
Skeptics did not see the tournament hosts going past the group stages, but Gordon Igesund was able to rally his troops and surge into the quarterfinals.

Disappointment followed when Bafana Bafana were knocked out by Mali, but many were impressed by South Africa's best showing in the tournament in years.

The silver lining is that the South African Football Association did not sack the coach – a knee jerk reaction that Safa has previously adopted when it comes to failure to perform in major competitions.
African football is known for its flair and goal celebrations. One that stood out in this year’s tournament was DR Congo’s goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba’s bum-shuffling.

The TP Mazembe goalie also had quite an interesting hair style to go with his eccentric goal celebration.

Afcon 2013 final prediction

Nigeria vs Burkina Faso

The Super Eagles have risen have come a long way in the competition and should have the fire power to overcome their opponents.

Despite some impressive showings, an exhausting penalties win over Ghana in the semifinal will make lifting the trophy a bridge too far for the first-time finalists from Burkina Faso.

Prediction: Nigeria to win 2-0.

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What were your most defining moments in Afcon 2013? -  share them with us on the comment box.