BURKINA Faso has eventually bowed out of the race for African football title with 4-3 penalty loss to mighty Egyptians. But, the West African team ended one of the top four finishers in the ongoing competition.
Previously not among the continental football giants, the tiny West African country has been a force to reckon with in this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON). Last Saturday, Burkina Faso became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the competition after beating giants Tunisia 2-0 in Libreville.
This year was their third time at Afcon finals after successfully making it in 2010 and 2012. Earlier in 2014, the team narrowly missed a place in the World Cup finals after their 3-3 tie with Algeria, where the latter qualified on being away goal advantage. For coach Paulo Duarte, who came back after being sacked, it was a very different story.
He managed to blend together a strong team of experienced players. Burkina Faso was drawn into a tough group that included hosts Gabon and Cameroon. The team managed to hold both teams to a 1-1 draw. They beat North Africans giants, Tunisia 2-0 with goals netted by the team’s veterans - Prejuce Nakoulma and Aristide Bance.
The Burkina Faso defence had leaked just two goals in their four games and much of the credit must go to goalkeeper Herve Koffi, who at 20 was the youngest goalkeeper at the tournament. The success of Burkina Faso, is on the other side, seems to ridicule the opposite situation facing Tanzanian football, especially its national team, Taifa Stars.
It was on September 2, 2016, when Taifa Stars under Brazilian Marcio Maximo, defeated the Burkinabe 2-1 in Dar es Salaam and went on to beat them 1-0 away in Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou on June 16, 2017. The country finished at the bottom in the group that consisted of Senegal, Mozambique and Tanzania.
The double loss to Tanzania, the country the Burkinabe regarded as ‘underdog’ was so menacing that the tiny West African country furiously overhauled the entire team and its technical staff. Tanzanian football did not do much after then, but Burkinabe did a lot. They conducted reforms which brought them where they are today.