Burkinabe claim unlikely semifinal berth

2013-02-03 23:41

Moment of the match: Madi Panandetiguiri’s magical clearance off the line that kept Burkina Faso in the game for a little longer to deny Emmanuel Adebayor a header in the second half.

Goal of the match: Jonathan Pitroipa stealing an extra-time header, catching the fans and the Togolese defence napping in an otherwise dour affair.

Player to watch: Wilfried Sanou (Burkina Faso). In the absence of Alain Traore, Sanou carried the Stallions' attacking chances where he was a constant threat on the right flank.

Plucky Burkina Faso claimed an unlikely milestone semifinal berth having beaten Togo 1-0 after extra time, in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations battle at Mbombela Stadium this evening.

The scores were deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes of normal time before Jonathan Pitroipa’s crucial header in the 105th minute gave the unfancied Burkinabe the victory.

The Stallions – in their second ever semifinal appearance – join fellow West Africans Ghana, Mali and Nigeria in the last stages of the competition.

Burkina Faso will face the Ghanaian Black Stars in Nelspruit on Wednesday night.

The Burkinabe encounter against Togo, however, was far from a thriller with both sides tactical in their approach, and with sporadic chances being offered.

Without their injured star forward, Alain Traore, the Stallions were more comfortable in catching their opponents on a break, a strategy that eventually paid dividends.

It was the Togolese who maneuvered more attacking opportunities in their historic first competition knockout tie, but failed to take the chances on offer.

The Sparrow Hawks’ best first-half opportunity came courtesy of Floyd Ayite, who squandered a shot inside the box, after being neatly set up by Serge Gapke in the 17th minute.

Then the Burkinabe found their rhythm midway through as the nippy Wilfried Sanou sent in a perfectly weighed cross on the right wing for Issouf Ouattara to head wide of goal after 28 minutes.

This was their best chance from a goalless first half as Togo controlled the first quarter of the second stanza with Emmanuel Adebayor seeing his header being brilliantly cleared off the line by Burkinabe defender Mady Panandetiguiri in the opening exchanges.

Kossi Segbefia went on to fashion a shot that went wide before Adebayor later forced a save from goalkeeper Daouda Diakite.

Burkina Faso made a late surge to try steal the game in the dying moments of normal time as Prejuce Nakoulma was timely tackled by Togolese defender Kossi Agassa.

Then their moment of brilliance came on the stroke of halftime of extra time. Pitriopa turned hero as he stunned the match favourites for his side's unlikely success.

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