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The Burkinabe football team
The Burkinabe football team
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AFCON 2013: Burkina Faso v Ghana (Highlights)
Highlights of the African Cup of Nations 2013 match between Burkina Faso and Ghana.
The day, Wednesday, February 6, 2013; will forever etch in the minds of football lovers in Burkina Faso after their national team reached the final of the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Les Etalons booked a historic place at the final of the 29th edition of the continental showpiece event after beating favourites Ghana 3-2 on penalties at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The Burkinabes were much destined to win the game they dominated that ended one-all after 120 minutes of action.
Clearly, the signs were on the wall as the fairy-tale success story of Les Etalons continues till the final. For a landlocked country with a population of just over 16 million, a place at Sunday’s final where they are due to face Nigeria remains the biggest feat in their football history.
Such sweet is the fact that the landmark achievement was recorded at the expense of neighbours, Ghana; who were seeking for their first ever title since 1982 and fifth overall. Another fact is that Burkina Faso made their debut appearance at the flagship continental football event during the 1978 staged in Ghana.
Burkina Faso has carved a niche for themselves as a rising force in African football over the years with successes at the youth level, where their best record remains a bronze medal at the 2001 edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. However, they have laboured in vain to replicate the performance at the senior level with Les Etalons.
After attaining independence from France in 1960, the Burkinabes had to wait for 18-years (1978) to cut their teeth at the continental championship in Ghana. Like a stranger in a new town, they were baptised and exited the competition without a point.
Les Etalons had to wait for yet another 18-years to make their second appearance at the biennial event in 1996 in South Africa. Like their maiden appearance, they crashed out at the group phase win-less from a group that included Algeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
Two years later, the tournament was staged on their soil, and the team will achieve their best ever outing finishing fourth. Under the guidance of Philippe Troussier (White Witch Doctor), the West Africans bounced back from a lone goal loss to Cameroon in the opening match to march on to the medal zone. Alphonse Tchami scored the only goal of the match.
The Burkinabes qualified from their group together with Cameroon at the expense of Algeria and Guinea, before beating Tunisia 8-7 on penalties at the quarters. At the semis, they were undone by a brace from Egypt legend Hossam Hossam to settle for a playoff which they lost 4-1 on penalties to DR Congo.
Heroes were made out of the squad that included Seydou Traore, Abdoulaye Traore, Alassane Ouedraogo, Kassim Ouedraogo amongst others. Les Etalons will make five appearances later at the tournament - 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2012; but failed to go past the first hurdle on each occasion.
Exit Paulo Duarte; enter Paul Put who guides the West Africans to beat Central African Republic 3-2 on aggregate to qualify for the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations, the first ever in an odd year. In South Africa, Les Etalons were housed in Group C alongside holders Zambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
After snatching a late draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in their opener, the 1998 semi-finalists decimated the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia 4-0 courtesy a brace from star-man Alain Traore and a goal each from Djakaridja Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa. Till this stage, it remains the biggest win at the ongoing tournament.
Les Etalons sealed their place at the knockout stage of the tournament with a barren draw over holders Zambia in the final group game. The result ended the reign of the Chipolopolo of Zambia, as they crashed out of the competition. However, the qualification came with a bitter-sweet feeling for Put and his boys, as playmaker Traore was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a thigh injury. The FC Lorient offensive bowed out with three goals.
The mantle then fell to Jonathan Pitroipa and he scored the match winner in extra-time against Togo at the quarters to book a date with neighbours Ghana at the last four. Against the Black Stars, the Burkinabes went down to a Mubarak Wakaso first half opener before Aristide Bance deservingly restored parity early in the second half. After 120 minutes of action, the match had to be decided on penalties with Bakary Kone, Henry Traore and Bance scored from the spot against Christian Atsu and Harrison Afful for the Ghanaians.
Yet again, the feat was characterised by tears and joy after Pitroipa was sent off in the dying embers of the game, ruling him out of the final against Nigeria next Sunday.
“It was a tough game but we deserved to win. I told my players at half time to continue the fight. We knew Ghana have a lot of offensive players and we needed to maintain our shape and position.
“I am happy with the win but I’m happier for the players and the people of Burkina Faso,” an excited Put said after the game.
Interestingly, goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama, a member of the 1998 squad that placed fourth is only survivor in the current team.
* Credits: Confederation of African Football