Ten days into the year that will see Africa host the World Cup for the first time; the eyes of the world were on Angola to witness the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
Group A – The hosts opened the tournament with 4 goals against Mali, but were pegged back to a 4-4 draw in the last 11 minutes with 2 of the goals coming deep into stoppage time. Algeria suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to Malawi, but having won their next match progressed to the next round, ahead of a an unlucky Mali team who won their last match 3-1 against Malawi, with a goalless draw against their hosts who had also won their 2nd match and topped the group.
Group B – Togo were disqualified for pulling out of the competition after the fatal attack on their bus, leaving the group with only 3 teams. Ivory Coast were held to a goalless draw by Burkina Faso, but after a creditable 3-1 win over Ghana went through together with the Ghanaians who beat Burkina Faso with the only goal the Burkinabe conceded in the tournament.
Group C – Egypt opened with a 3-1 win over Nigeria in the top-of-the-table clash with both teams keeping clean sheets in their subsequent wins over Benin and Mozambique.
Group D – In a tightly fought group Gabon who stunned Cameroon with a 1-0 win in their opening match were unlucky not to make it to the next round having finished on identical points and goal difference to Zambia and Cameroon.
Quarter finals – The participation of hosts Angola came to an end losing 1-0 to Ghana, and Nigeria knocked Zambia out on penalties. Favourites Ivory Coast were sent packing after losing 3-2 to Algeria in extra time while Cameroon fell 3-1 to reigning champions Egypt in another match that needed 30 extra minutes to separate the teams.
Semi finals – A single goal against Nigeria was enough to send Ghana to the final where they were to meet Egypt who avenged their World Cup play-off defeat by thrashing an ill-disciplined Algerian side that finished the match with 8 men.
Final matches - Nigeria beat Algeria 1-0 to finish 3rd while Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations for the 3rd time in succession with a 1-0 victory over Ghana to make them the highest team in rankfootball not to qualify for the World Cup.
A comprehensive report on all the matches can be found at footballreporter.co.uk.