A good number of eyeballs watched the Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria lifted the trophy. Through all the kicking, a few lessons can be learnt:

Kicking can pay the bills
If you have well-developed calf muscles and you feel fulfilled running up and down a pitch, tackling, dribbling and shouting things that we watching you on TV cannot make out, then soccer is the thing for you. Throw on a pair of boots. If someone out there is being paid for that stuff, so can you.

Whack hair doesn’t get you ahead
Crazy hair styles won’t get you ahead. Scoring goals. Being a key player. Top-notch performance will. You are only as memorable as your performance. Get that in order…then go paint your hair purple and add the Harry Potter arrow.

Tough talk and confidence alone don’t carry the day
The president of Zambia was interviewed by Al Jazeera just as the tournament kicked off; asked whether they would retain the trophy, he said (not verbatim) “The cup is ours. That is not even a question. It is ours. We are the only team” with the swag of Popeye on spiked spinach.

Zambia didn’t make it past the group stage. 
If it were a marathon, they are the guy who tripped on his shoe laces 500 metres into the race. Talk the talk. Make noise. But when the cameras aren’t rolling, put in the work.

Sweat. Spend nights awake. 
Burn the midnight oil. Fill basins with water and dip your feet in them. If talking is your thing, do it…but put in the work.

Being the big dog on paper doesn’t count
Ivory Coast. Tunisia. Morocco. South Africa. Ghana. All very big teams on paper. Teams you pee your pants thrice just knowing you are going up against them. Surveys show that diapers are handed out thrice whenever small teams are drawn against these powerhouses. But they all fell, many at the feet of underdogs.

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