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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Big Match Feature: Burkina Faso vs Egypt


2013 Africa Cup of Nations finalist Burkina Faso are on the cusp of another Afcon final but will have to first edge out an improving Egyptian team looking to add another title to their seven tournament wins.
The Etalons took many by surprise after they defeated Tunisia 2-0 in an interesting quarter-final clash at the Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville last weekend
An Aristide Bance inspired Burkina Faso came alive in the last 10 minutes of the tie to dent the hopes of the Carthage Eagles who failed to fly when it mattered most.
Bance was introduced in the 77th minute of the game and it turned out to be an inspired substitution.
The Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast striker scored four minutes after coming on, hit a post and then assisted Prejuce Nakoulma to put the tie beyond the Tunisians.
The Burkina Faso side, coach by Paul Duarte have improved with each passing game and will fancy their chances against Egypt on Wednesday.
Egypt have been one of the most consistent sides in the tournament, though not flashy by any means, their effectiveness has seen them win all their games bar the first group game that they drew with Mali.
An added spice to the equation is that Egypt is the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal while Burkina Faso has scored in all their games.
Ahmed Hegazi has been colossal for the North Africans in the centre of defence and he will also be counted upon to lock out an impressive Burkinabe attack.
Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary [below]and Ahmed Fathi are the two survivors from the last time Egypt won the trophy in 2010 and will relish a chance to get their hands on the trophy again.
El Hadary has not allowed any goal go past him since he came on for Mohammed El Shenawi in the first group game against Mali and has put up fantastic performances that belly his 44 years.
Burkina Faso has also been strong defensively with a solid defensive line of Issoufou Dayo, Bakary Kone and Yacouba Coulibaly.
They have conceded only two goals in four games with Vincent Aboubakar’s goal the only one they have let in from open play-the other, a penalty kick converted by Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang.
It will be a clash of two teams with contrasting styles. Burkina Faso’s counter-attacking, compact defending game against an Egyptian side who love to play expansive football under Hector Cuper.
Road to the semi-finals
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso 1 (Dayo Issoufou) Cameroon 1 (Benjamin Moukandjo)
Gabon 1 (Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang) Burkina Faso 1 (Prejuce Nakoulma)
Burkina Faso 2 (Rudinilson Silva -OG, Bertrand Traore) Guinea-Bissau 0
Burkina Faso 2 (Aristide Bance, Prejuce Nakoulma) Tunisia 0 
Mali 0 Egypt 0
Egypt 1 (Abdallah Said) Uganda 0
Ghana 0 Egypt 1 (Mohammed Salah)
Egypt 1 (Mahmoud Momen ‘Kharaba’) Morocco 0
Team news
Egypt will be without goalkeeper Mohamed EL Shenawi who is out of the tournament, Mohsen (ACL) and Arsenal midfielder Mohammed Elneny who has a calf injury.
Paulo Duarte has no such worries as Bertrand Traore has fully recovered from the knock he received in the game against Tunisia. He was taken off as a precautionary approach but is okay now to fight for a starters shirt.
20-year-old goalkeeper Herve Koffi has done brilliantly well for the Etalons and will retain his position between the sticks as Duarte will probably name the same line-up he put out against Tunisia in the semi-finals.
What they said: 
“Even though we twice managed to qualify for the finals (2010 and 2012), the team had no experience. The only ambition then, was to qualify, because when I arrived, Burkina Faso had not played in the finals for six years.
“When I came back, it was a very different story, although there were some problems. I tried to fix them, but I had to go slowly.Today, I have more talent.
“ Leading players are in their late 20s. They are between 27 and 29 years, in their best age. As a result, we play better and it makes it easier to integrate new, younger players".
‘Paulo Duarte (Burkina Faso coach) on his team’s progress’
"It is not an ideal situation, but we have no choice but to adapt.
"The players will be given time to rehabilitate and hopefully, they will be ready come Wednesday night."
‘Hector Cuper (Egypt coach) on his team’s short recovery time ahead of the Burkina Faso game’
Key players
Prejuce Nakoulma (Burkina Faso)- The Burkina Faso striker is a candidate for player of the tournament with his goals and overall play for his country.
Nakoulma, who has just signed a deal with Ligue 1 side Nantes from Turkish side Kayserispor, has been one of the key performers for the Etalons as they gear up for a second semi-final in four years.
His pace, power and surging forward runs have propelled his nearer to the title and he will be looking to bury the ghosts of 2013 when they lost to Nigeria in the final.
The 29 year will hope to lead his country to another final and this time, maybe take a step further and win the title.
Then there is also super-sub and crowd favourite Aristide Bance ( Burkina Faso ) [above] who has played for 19 different clubs in 12 different countries; Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Belgium, Ukraine, Germany, UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Finland, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Latvia.
Mohammed Salah (Egypt)- One of the leaders of the Egyptian squad and the undisputed playmaker of the team.
He has not been playing to his full potential in the tournament but has done enough to carry Egypt to the semi-finals.
Salah’s sumptuous free-kick against Ghana meant Egypt topped Group D and qualified for the semi-finals.
The AS Roma star is a tricky player who combines pace and good technical abilities to great effect. He is comfortable playing from the wings or through the middle in the attacking areas.
Egypt will hope he is at his best when they meet Burkina Faso in the semi-final on Wednesday in Libreville.
Probable line-ups
Burkina Faso: Koffi; Yago, Dayo, Kone, Coulibaly; Kabore, Razak Toure, Blati Toure; Bertrand Traore, Bayala, Nakoulma.
Egypt: El Hadary; Elmohamady, Gabr, Fathi, Hegazy; Hamed, Hafez, Salah, Said; Trezeguet, Kahraba. 
Head to head 
12 Jan 1973 Egypt v Burkina Faso 4-2 African Games
25 Feb 1998 Burkina Faso v Egypt 0-2 Africa Cup of Nations
01 Feb 2000 Egypt v Burkina Faso 4-2 Africa Cup of Nations
11 Jan 2002 Egypt v Burkina Faso 2-2 International Friendly
17 Jan 2004 Egypt v Burkina Faso 1-1 International Friendly
27 Feb 2016 Egypt v Burkina Faso 2-0 International Friendly.
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