Johannesburg - The presence of outsiders Burkina Faso in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final is a positive sign for football on the continent, CAF president Issa Hayatou says.
The Burkinabe have made it to Soccer City at the expense of traditional African powers like Ghana and Ivory Coast.
"The fact that Burkina made the final is a positive sign for the development of football in Africa," Hayatou told reporters on Friday.
"There aren't small or big teams, everyone is on a level footing."
Hayatou said he was satisfied with attendances at the 2013 Nations Cup despite many games mustering barely a couple of thousand fans.
"South Africa has stadiums with big capacities. When there are 45 000 seats you have the feeling it's empty. South Africa were knocked out, but people still went to matches."
The competition has been marked by some controversial refereeing decisions, not least the officiating of Burkina Faso's semi-final win over Ghana.
But Hayatou said: "Overall we are satisfied with the African refereeing.
"We've seen mistakes, especially in the Burkina-Ghana semi-final.
"There've been two or three badly managed matches, but overall the refereeing is in the process of improving."
The pitch at Nelspruit, which played host to Burkina's penalty shoot-out win over Ghana on Wednesday, has come in for heavy criticism after a fungal infection killed swathes of grass before the tournament began.
Hayatou commented: "The pitch wasn't awful, it was the colour of the grass which wasn't good.
"Before the competition began they put on products which made the green colour disappear, but the pitch itself was good."
Hayatou, 66, who is standing for his seventh term of office in Morocco next month, looked back on his tenure so far.
"We have given credibility to CAF, improved resources. African football is on the up and up, we're going to continue that so one day an African side can win the World Cup."