Goal.com selects the standout performers from the opening three match days of the Africa Cup of Nations...Best Formation: 4-4-2
Didier Ovono - Gabon
The Gabon 'keeper has been one of their most impressive performers in this competition, consistently thwarting attacks in the three matches he played in the group stage. His passion and flamboyant displays of leadership from the back will be missed in the next rounds of the tournament.
Saidou Panandetiguiri - Burkina Faso
The Burkina Faso international gave a great account of himself in the two matches his side played, where they only conceded a single goal in games against two of the competition's best in Ivory Coast and Ghana. The UD Leiria full-back put in an all-action display against the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire as Burkina Faso shut out one of the tournament favourites in a goalless draw. His display against the Black Stars was impressive as well, and it is a pity that he will not continue in the tournament.
Bakary Kone - Burkina Faso
Paulo Duarte may have introduced us to the up and coming African defensive talent in the shape of Bakary Kone. Physically, he could not differ more from his Cote d'Ivoire namesake, a player he helped shut out in Matchday One. After conceding only once against two of the favourites for the competition, Kone is unlucky not to be looking forward to a quarter-final. Surely, his stock has risen though.
Wael Gomaa - Egypt
The Egyptian defensive stalwart has proven that there is no substitute for experience. In terms of positioning and game-reading, there is scarcely a better defender on the continent than Al-Ahly's Gomaa. Strong and dominant, he organises the Pharaohs back-line and ensures that Hassan Shehata's system has its effective origins in defence.
Sayed Moawad - Egypt
Egypt are playing a very entertaining and well balanced style of football at the moment, and the main reason why they are considered favourites to retain their title is the fact that they have not only a fantastic set of attacking players, but a defence that can shut out some of the best African strikers in the competition. Moawad is one of these defenders, and he has done the Pharaohs proud with great performances alongside his team-mates in the Egyptian backline.
Mabina - Angola
He may be a newcomer to the international scene but it has taken Mabina no time at all to exert himself at this level. He came into the tournament as a reserve but has earned a starting place in Manuel Jose's team thanks to his tireless running and accurate crossing. Angola may have had their share of injuries but that has been hardly noticed thanks to the interventions of the Petro Atletico man.
Ahmed Hassan - Egypt
The oldest midfielder in town may be on the cusp of a staggering 170th international cap but there is no sign of a slow down as yet; indeed, the 34-year-old is in good shape to become the first-ever double century cap holder in the men's game. Hassan has been exemplary in his duties at Angola, playmaking with distinction. He is a key cog in the machine for the Pharaohs and is a contender for player of the tournament and a fourth AFCON title.
Seydou Keita - Mali
Mali have underwhelmed and frustrated in equal measure at the Africa Cup of Nations and only have Seydou Keita to thank for saving them from more woe. The Barcelona midfielder acquitted himself decently, scoring three goals, and generally being the inspiration that his rival, Mahamadou Diarra, was not.
Gilberto - Angola
If there is a better winger at the AFCON, he has yet to reveal himself. Gilberto is the fourth Al-Ahly player in the team of the group stage and deserves his place alongside his club colleagues. He has caused havoc against each of Angola's opponents; winning penalties, providing assists and scoring goals. He is capable of the killer pass and could hold the key for the Black Antelopes going far in the tournament.
Flavio - Angola
Along with Keita, Flavio is the tournament's top scorer with three. The Al-Shabab frontman has caused each of the teams he has faced numerous problems due to his pace and movement and looks a decent bet for the Golden Boot at this stage. Certainly, Angola's goalscoring burden rests on the shoulders of the 30-year-old and they will need him to stay fit.
Felix Katongo - Zambia
Zambia have displayed a fluid attacking formation, with the likes of Christopher Katongo, James Chamanga and Jacob Mulenga occupying the danger roles. The Chipolopolo have certainly impressed going forward and, more often than not, their attacks have been orchestrated by the impressive, yet diminutive Felix Katongo.
Didier Zokora - Ivory Coast
The midfield workhorse has been one of the Ivory Coast stars who has lived up to his name and reputation. Zokora chipped in with fine performances in the two group games the Elephants encountered, playing a very important role in his side's win over Ghana, while sticking out as one of the better players in the goalless draw against Burkina Faso in the first game.
Jacob Mulenga - Zambia
This man gave defenders a torrid time in the first three matches, terrorising them with his great deal of pace and his bustling nature. Zambia are in the knockout stages to a large extent because of the excellent work that the 26-year-old striker has been doing. He might not be scoring goals but he is performing a modern-lone-striker's duty, bringing midfielders into play by holding the ball up very well.
Samuel Eto’o - Cameroon
The Inter striker was not in his best form against Tunisia but he managed to reignite the dying hopes of his side. For him that last nervy game against Tunisia that nearly drove them out of the tournament was not about possession and skills. It was about goals and nothing else. The reigning top scorer of the Nations Cup was found behind every free kick and throw-ins just to quench his goal test. His efforts paid off when in less than a minute into the second half he converted a pass from Pierre Webo to give Cameroon one of their two goals to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Andre Dede Ayew - Ghana
The youngster is gradually taken into the shoes of his legendary father Abedi Pele who captained the Black Stars in the early ‘90s. The left winger exuded a lot of strength and maturity in Ghana’s last game against Burkina Faso. He scored the only goal of the match to keep alive the Black Stars’ hope of breaking their 27-year African title drought. Ayew is a confident player and has good sense of judgment any time he handles the ball in his territory. He is one of the youngest in this tournament who has proven his worth. No wonder he was named Man-of-the-Match in the Burkina Faso clash.
Mohamed Nagy Geddo - Egypt
Undoubtedly the breakout star of the tournament thus far. The Al Ittihad Sakandary has come off the bench in every group game and scored two spectacular goals in the first two matches to put both Nigeria and Mozambique away. In five national team appearances he has three tallies and if he can keep up that kind of goal to game ratio then he certainly won't be plying his trade in Egypt much longer. European clubs have already begun contacting his employers, with Sunderland, Osasuna, and Real Sociedad leading the chase. The question now is how much higher can he raise his price tag in the knockout stages?
Osaze Odemwingie - Nigeria
He revived the dwindling hopes of Nigerians at Angola 2010 by successfully manning the attack of the Super Eagles during the critical encounter against Mozambique, scoring two crucial goals, making one wonder what he could have done in the first match had he been fit enough to play. His great footwork, speed and long distance shooting make him a force to be reckoned with in African football.
Karim Haggui - Tunisia
After a disappointing opening encounter versus Zambia during which he looked out of position and generally out of sorts, the Tunisian captain responded with a much improved performance which was full of tidy and timely tackles against the physically imposing Gabonese front line. He also cleaned up his passing and heeded his coach's instructions not to play ineffective long balls up the pitch like he did against the Chipolopolo.
Alexandre Song - Cameroon
The Indomitable Lion have this man to thank for their progression to the next round. He is the team's backone in the middle of the park and initiates attacks very well. His stability and composure is the reason why Cameroon are able to impose themselves on the opposition in the centre. Definitely a contender for the midfielder of the tournament honour, he has the stamina and runs the whole game, covering even for Geremi Njitap.
Panadetiguiri - Kone - Gomaa - Moawad
Mabina - Hassan - Keita - Gilberto
Katongo - Flavio