In the end, they made it look easy.
Ghana—one of the favourites heading into the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations—beat Niger 3-0 in Port Elizabeth on Monday and in so doing finished right where they were supposed to: atop Group B with an unbeaten record from three matches.
The Black Stars will now face Cinderella story Cape Verde in Eastern Cape city on Saturday while Niger, who failed to score a goal at the competition, will leave South Africa once again having failed to progress from their bracket at the Cup of Nations.
Mali drew Congo DR 1-1 in Durban in Monday’s other match and will face tournament host South Africa on Saturday in Durban.
So what can we take from Ghana’s win? Well, that the pre-AFCON hype wasn’t misplaced, for starters. And Niger? They’ll surely be disappointed with their showing, which was sturdy for the most part but lacking in finish.
Following are the major talking points from Monday’s match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.