Ghana best of World Cup five in Angola
With the glaring exception of Ghana none of the five World Cup-bound teams competing at the Africa Cup of Nations left Angola with their reputations enhanced.
Ghana can look forward to South Africa with plenty of optimism after overcoming a horror injury list to make it to Sunday's final where they came unstuck 1-0 to defending champions Egypt.
Coach Milovan Rajevic saw no fewer than eight inexperienced youngsters step up to fill the shoes of established absent players such as Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah. Ghana open their World Cup campaign agaisnt Rajevic's home country Serbia on June 13, and can justifiably fancy their chances of making it through a group that also includes Germany and Australia.
Ivory Coast turned up in Angola wearing the favourites tag but Didier Drogba's team flattered to deceive. The Elephants let a 2-1 lead over Algeria slip away in the closing stages to go out 3-2 in extra time in the quarter-finals.
Coach Vahid Halilhodzic was mystified at his multi-millionaire side's collapse.
"Great teams do not let a 2-1 lead a few minutes before full-time slip like that," said the Bosnian-born former Yugoslavian international.
"It is unacceptable. We are all really stunned. We came here with great hopes and as is always the case Ivory Coast has failed to deliver.
"It is not a physical problem it is a mental one. I do not have all the answers but I am ashamed with regard to how we played and apologise to the Ivorian public who really believed in us," said Halilhodzic.
Nigeria too struggled to impress, labouring past Zambia in the quarter-finals only to fall to Ghana and then edging Algeria in Saturday's third-place play-off.
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