It is a pattern familiar to any soccer fan. A game has settled into a stalemate. The passing is disconnected, neither side seems too concerned and you’re sitting there wondering why you wasted your afternoon, why you should give a damn about this sport, anyway.
Then, unprompted, a flash of brilliance. A passing move, a powerful shot from distance, maybe just a simple flourish with the ball.
The wait was worth it.
It took patience to wade through the mostly bland first six days of the 2013 African Cup of Nations. But a brilliant Day 7 provided an overdue reward, and if Saturday’s matches are any indication, it could spark this tournament into life.
The opening half of the group stage failed to live up to this event’s usual spontaneity.
In the past, even if the results were predictable, it was never boring. This year’s tournament had produced few goals, and more worryingly, been defined by a crushing blend of caution and lack of quality.
Even the surprises, the teams rising from outsiders to possible contenders, have done so more by default than merit.
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