The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations is still in its infancy to offer a conclusive picture in the land they call the Rainbow Nation but first impression matters.
It is too early to rule out Zambia’s title defence but there is something missing in their collective application.
Maybe, coach Renard Herve should have injected more fresher legs but there are signs that Zambia could, like Egypt’s Pharaoh, turn from heroes to zeros.
The sooner Rainford Kalaba peaks in form, the better for the Chipolopolo who are not the same with the playmaker they call Master visibly suffering from match fitness and with it, a crisis in confidence. Zambia could only then get to the quarter-final.
Still on Cosafa envoys, Angola’s displays can best be summed up in the body language of their captain Manucho who never wastes time in giving up when starved of decent service upfront.
Minus Flavio, Manucho is fighting a lone frustrating battle upfront.
For the hosts, they still suffer from the disease of the Three Lions of England whose pre-tournament hype does not fully translate on the pitch.
If they get to the last eight, which is a possibility, Bafana Bafana would owe it to hard-nosed tactician Gordon Igesund.
Otherwise, South Africa’s Shibobo dance might entertain but hardly alters score sheets. Second, Bafana Bafana lacks strong characters.
For many, Ghana and Ivory Coast remain the safest bets but I am yet to be convinced by Ghana’s fluency up front.
For the Elephants, they boast world class players but they hardly are a great team.
On the rookies, there is something to learn from Cape Verde who are shutting up their critics one by one with performance rich in pride, defiance and discipline.
Watch Cape Verde walk onto the pitch, then the body language is that of open defiance to opponents.
Watch them play, battle pound by pound and you realise that, while Africa thought otherwise, Cape Verde are on a mission to prove that they are not in South Africa as Table Mountain tourists.
Cape Verde draw two of their players from leagues across Europe, hence their fighting attitude is not surprising.
Flames badly need some legs with genuine professional football experience. Not the bad habits that most Malawian players learn in South Africa.
Flames need genuine strong characters obsessed with a single mind of winning. It does not matter whether they play in fourth tier European leagues for such professionals bring back valuable experience.
It is a pity that Malawi underutilises Dan Chitsulo and Clement Kafwafwa, whom we expected to lift the whole Flames on their shoulders.
Cape Verde might this week be on an early flight back home but they have left a big impression on Africa football.