The return of Nigeria completed
a field of teams that outshined what was seen at the Nations Cup since
1992. All major forces in African football showed up and most of them in
good form and so it was no accident that 4 World Cup qualificants of 1998
formed the semi-finals.
The tournament was marred
by crowd trouble in Nigeria and culminated in a thrilling finale between
Nigeria and Cameroon, won by the Indomitable Lions who were impressive
throughout the tournament.
Two teams of the region
had qualified for the finals, possibly because of the regional advantage,
but also because they seem to be the strongest teams at the moment. Ghana
for example did not benefit from the homefield advantage. In their only
game against a team from another region they were eliminated in the quarter
finals by South Africa.
While Senegal were one of
the revelations of the tournament, Egypt, Morocco, and Côte d'Ivoire
rather disappointed. The West African 'magicians' at least demonstrated
their potential and, like Morocco, became inevitable casualties of the
constellation after the draw which implicated two giants would be out after
the first round for sure.
It had been easy to predict
that the coaches of those teams would have to go whether it was making
sense or not.
In the end it had been some
remarkable football after some stuttering bginning due to the problems
in preperation not at last caused by the problems African professionals
face torn between club and country commitments.