Didier Ovono (Gabon)
The Gabon keeper was the man of the match for the minnows in their historic 1-0 win over the highly fancied Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. His alert goalkeeping and leadership from the back allowed him to pull off a number of great saves, stopping the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Achille Emana and Pierre Webo, whilst marshalling his defence well to keep a clean sheet against the African giants.
Elvis Kafoteka (Malawi)
The Flames defender was a threat to Algeria at both ends of the pitch, with tight defending keeping the talented Fennecs from scoring in the game, whilst adding the second goal for his country with a powerful header, which would have beaten most goalkeepers. The number 12 was an example to his colleagues in the Malawi back line, and the 3-0 win over World Cup-bound Algeria will certainly have given Kafoteka and his team-mates confidence going into the match-up with hosts Angola tonight.
Saidou Panadetiguiri (Burkina Faso)
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. Ostensibly a defender, Panadetiguiri was rarely only that. The 25-year-old tackled anything that moved and never allowed the likes of Gervinho and Drogba to settle. He was richly rewarded with a clean sheet and an augmented reputation.
Wael Gomaa (Egypt)
The veteran orchestrated the Pharaohs defence with a firm hand and calm demeanour. Hassan Shehata's back-three was well in line for the duration against the misfiring Super Eagles with Al Ahly's cornerstone prominent throughout. Gomaa was on hand to provide key blocks and tackles and throw his ample physical presence around.
Mamadou Tall (Burkina Faso)
Another stallion who punched in a patient and diligent defensive display against the usually irresistible Cote d'Ivoire. The strapping central defender formed a formidable partnership with Bakary Kone and executed Paulo Duarte's tactical game plan with aplomb.
Seydou Keita (Mali)
The Barcelona midfielder proved his worth when he came into the opening match of the tournament as a substitute. He changed the face of the game for the most part in the second half and hit the back of the net twice. He was very dynamic and influential in salvaging Mali's image from falling at the hands of hosts Angola. His effort, plus the support of his team-mates, sent the 50,000-plus crowd home with gloomy faces.
Ahmed Hassan (Egypt)
The captain led his team by example, scoring a stunning strike to help the Pharaohs overturn the result against the mighty Super Eagles and push on to an impressive 3-1 comeback. His constant work in midfield kept Nigeria on the back foot, as he displayed his experience from eight editions of the African Nations Cup. He will be key to any title aspirations for Egypt, as he is a solid player who is one of the most consistent midfielders in Angola.
Felix Katongo (Zambia)
One of the two brothers on show in the Zambian side, Katongo had a fine shift in the Chipolopolo midfield against the much-fancied Tunisians. The number 10 was all over the pitch and did not stop running till the very end when the point was secured. This impressive Zambian team will be interesting to watch against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon this weekend.
The winger was on form as the Black Antelopes of Angola tore through Mali for 80-odd minutes in the opening fixture. On the left side, the Al Ahly man was irrepressible, sending in the assist for Flavio's opener before winning a pair of penalties, one of which he despatched himself. Algeria and Malawi must beware the 27-year-old, although the battle between Gilberto and Elvis Kofeteka promises to be epic.
Chinedu Obasi (Nigeria)
In a very disappointing game for the Nigerian Super Eagles, one man stood out as the only positive point for the men in green. Hoffenheim striker Obasi has been on form of late, but he was not expected to start for his national side with the likes of Obafemi Martins, Peter Odemwingie and Victor Nsofor Obinna in the running to partner Yakubu Aiyegbeni. But he did start, and he proved to be the coach's only sterling tactical move of the day. The striker showed great enthusiasm, and his turn-and-strike goal from distance was truly a top class effort.
The skilful striker lifted the spirits of a nation with his brace against a star-studded Mali side, and despite the fact that the final score was 4-4, Flavio was by far the star of the encounter for the hosts. In the days leading up to the match he was considered a doubt for the Black Antelopes due to injury, but he recovered in time to start the game and open the scoring for Angola, adding a second just before half-time.
Gilberto F Katongo Obasi
Panandetiguiri Tall Gomaa Kafoteka
Gilberto F Katongo Obasi
Panandetiguiri Tall Gomaa Kafoteka
Jacob Mulenga (Zambia)
The Zambian striker was a constant thorn in the side of the Carthage Eagles, as Tunisia drew 1-1 with Chipolopolo, continuing the trend of the underdogs mastering the favourites in the tournament. Mulenga provided the goal for his side, as a fine Zambian team played a wonderful game and proved that they should no longer be considered minnows in the African game. Mulenga displayed great energy throughout the encounter, and he came close to doubling the scoreline for his side during the match.
Daouda Diakite (Burkina Faso)
If the Ivorian star-studded team must hold someone responsible for not crushing the Stallions, it could be Burkinabe goalkeeper Daouda Diakite. He fended off all the missiles the Ivorian forwards aimed at the Stallions' goalmouth. He galvanised his team-mates throughout the encounter to stand up against Didier Drogba and company. The Elephants will not forget him too soon.
Youssef Msakni (Tunisia)
The youngest player on the team with the lowest average age at the tournament made his first start in a competitive match for his country. He repaid the faith his coach, Faouzi Benzarti, had shown by creating the only goal for the Carthage Eagles in their 1-1 draw against Zambia. His anticipation, pace, and impressive body control in the move where he did all the work before dishing the ball off to Zouhaier Dhaouadi, prove that the 19-year-old is going to be the danger man for the north Africans during their African Cup campaign.
Russel Mwafulirwa (Malawi)
The striker was so determined throughout the match against a team that many believed to be the better side, and he received his just reward in the 17th minute of the game, opening the scoring for the Flames and sending Malawi on the way to their first win in the African Nations Cup. The attacker then continued to put constant pressure on Mali until he was substituted late in the game.
Almiro ‘Miro’ Lobo (Mozambique)
The defensive stalwart was instrumental in making sure that Mozambique didn't concede a third goal as Benin kept coming at them like a berserk Buffalo. Lobo produced a fine performance at the back and chipped in for the Mambas with a brilliant goal, which was only Mozambique's second tournament strike since 1998. The bulky defender was solid in defence.