This day in history of Ronaldo
TUNIS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Tunisia have written themselves into the history books of African football after winning the Nations Cup for the first time with a little help from their friends.
Symptomatic of the way African national sides now draw on foreign players, rather than just foreign coaches, Saturday's 2-1 win over Morocco in the final was 'Made in Brazil'.
Francileudo dos Santos, given a Tunisian passport just before these finals, put the host nation ahead and a cross-cum-shot by Brazilian-born compatriot Clayton handed Ziad Jaziri his match-winner.
Expertly coached by France's Euro 2000 winner Roger Lemerre, Tunisia's victory ended decades of failure and frustration.
For the three early favourites, holders Cameroon, World Cup quarter-finalists Senegal and Nigeria, the tournament was a source of heartache.
Cameroon were bidding for a record fifth title and third in succession.
Sadly for the Indomitable Lions, who had also wanted the crown as a tribute to former midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who died at last year's Confederations Cup, those ambitions were shattered in the quarter-finals by old foes Nigeria.
Captain Rigobert Song indicated Cameroon might have rested too long on their laurels, saying: "Perhaps at one stage we thought that we could no longer lose."
Senegal's performance was embodied by talismanic winger El Hadji Diouf, who too often tried to take on too many opponents at once and ultimately made little headway.
Diouf will certainly not be remembered at these finals for his skills but for the unpleasant temper tantrums in their 1-0 quarter-final defeat by Tunisia which landed him a three-match ban for violent conduct, extended to four games on appeal.
His personal fit of pique was compounded by a general fracas and pitch invasion by Senegal substitutes and coaching staff after Tunisia's winner which did nothing for the image of African football.
Nigeria, under the inspired captaincy of Austin 'Jay-Jay' Okocha, the best player at the tournament, have some reasons to be satisfied with their turbulent stay in Tunisia.
A decision by Nigerian officials to expel strikers Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Victor Agali, along with defender Celestine Babayaro, for indiscipline before their second game was either brave or foolhardy.
It did have the effect of drawing the remaining squad together and they recovered strongly from an opening defeat by Morocco.
However, the subsequent lack of firepower up front was probably the biggest reason for their failure to reach the final.
A 1-0 semi-final lead over Tunisia lasted until the closing minutes when a generously-awarded penalty rescued the host nation and spurred them to victory in a subsequent shoot-out.
Okocha's men were left to overcome Mali in the third place play-off and depart the tournament heads high.
The same cannot be said for Algeria's fans, who threw plastic seats, firecrackers, bottles and coins and had to be chased away by truncheon-wielding police after a 3-1 quarter-final defeat by Morocco following extra-time.
Other sides, such as Mali, went out with a whimper.
Former France under-21 striker Frederic Kanoute, one of several players to exploit a recent FIFA rule change on nationalities, was an early hit before fading in the latter stages.
For those who bowed out at the group stage, there was a sense of desperation for some and satisfaction for others.
Egypt, tournament hosts in 2006, were the biggest casualties and coach Mohsen Salah paid the inevitable price.
The Democratic Republic of Congo were no more fortunate but did provide some light relief.
Skipper Lomana LuaLua was vitriolic about the organisers, Tunisian food, the distant training ground and having to sleep two to a bed after his red card heralded a 3-0 defeat by the hosts.
Team coach Mick Wadsworth ventured that some Tunisian players deserved an Oscar nomination for their harrowing interpretations of a footballer suffering serious injury.
For others, the trip home will have been much less traumatic.
Rwanda appeared at their first finals, less than 10 years after a brutal genocide killed millions in tribal fighting, and won their final game against the luckless Congolese.
Kenya also won their first ever game at the finals, while Benin coach Cecil Jones Attuquayefio was philosophical about their maiden Nations Cup in a tough group.
Summing up the disparities which are a hallmark of this tournament, he said: "Compared to Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco, we are a baby team that is trying to walk."
By Trevor Huggins