Desailly: I want to see creative sparkle

FIFA :    With the knockout phase of the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations about to begin, former France captain Marcel Desailly gave his views on the tournament so far to

On duty in South Africa as a media pundit, the Ghana-born Desailly has always been a passionate supporter of African football. While impressed by the progress the African game is making, the man they call The Rock said he is looking to the players to express themselves more. What are your thoughts on the group phase of the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations?
Marcel Desailly: If you compare this AFCON to the last one, you’ll see that standards are levelling out.

There are a lot of new faces around. I’m delighted to see Burkina Faso establish themselves and Cape Verde Islands, who’ve achieved great things under a top-class coach (Lucio Antunes).

I’m not surprised by Zambia’s elimination because it was always going to be difficult for them to repeat their exceptional team performance at the last AFCON, and they were under pressure to do well.

Nigeria, who didn’t make the finals last time round, have shown with their coach Stephen Keshi that they can’t be ruled out either. Overall, it’s been pretty satisfying although I’d have liked the North African teams to have done better.

When you see the standard Egypt have set in recent finals, I was hoping to see one of the Maghreb teams come and show the kind of technical ability the Pharaohs have produced in the past.