Burkina Faso writing history as they dream of their first-ever AFCON title in West African derby against Senegal

Maravi Express

Burkina Faso, who have impressed since the start of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a fluid, offensive and forward-looking game, are set to write more history as they face Senegal in the semifinal tonight in West African derby.

The Stallions and Teranga Lions will search for a place in the much awaited final on February 6 against winners of the other semifinal between Egypt and the hosts Cameroun.

The Burkinabe finished third in their last appearance in Gabon 2017 and after missing the last edition in Egypt, they are now eyeing to better their best AFCON record when they finished as losing finalists in 2013.

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“The match against Senegal will be like a final. We will play all our assets to go to the final and seek the crown,” said goalkeeper Hervé Koffi, one of the team’s best performers in Cameroon so far.

“The most important thing for us is to go as far as possible in the competition. I’m satisfied with my teammates, and I can promise you that we’re going to do our best to get the title.

“We are expecting a great match this Wednesday against Senegal with positive pressure,” he is quoted as saying by CAFonline.

His coach Kamou Malo said he has so far achieved his goal personally “but as a competitor I aim to win the trophy next Sunday”.

“We are determined to go all the way to win the title. Against Senegal, a great footballing country, we have to be ourselves. The main thing is to play our usual game.”

Senegal are targeting back-to-back finals as coach Aliou Cissé and his side reach the AFCON semifinals for the second time in a row having finished as runners-up in Egypt 2019, and now eyeing a title that has eluded them for a long time.

The Teranga Lions timidly started the competition in Cameroon but have been fueling better and better since the Round of 16.

“We have recovered our players little by little, we are right in it,” says the Senegalese coach, a former Paris Saint Germain player.

Sadio Mane’s teammates are dreaming of a place in the final, and nothing but the title they narrowly missed twice, finishing as losing finalists in 2002 and 2019.

Coach Aliou Cissé said: “We prepared well for our semi-final against Burkina Faso, even if we didn’t have a lot of time. We focused on recovery.

“We know Burkina Faso team well; they remain a good team that is progressing with good players. We are expecting a difficult match, but we are ready.

“I am thinking of doing everything to pass this milestone of the semi-finals. We hope and work to win this African title. We have never doubted our abilities. Our desire is to play the grand final on February 6th”.

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His midfielder Joseph Lopy told CAFonline that they are focused for the semi-final against “a good Burkina Faso team which remains one of the best in the competition”.

“We will play with positive pressure and a desire to represent the Senegalese flag and the country well. We want to continue the adventure and win the title.”

This will be the third AFCON encounter between the two sides in the first in the knock-out rounds, with Senegal unbeaten in the previous two matches in the group stages (W1 D1).

Burkina Faso will play in their fourth semi-final match having been eliminated in two of their previous three – last progressing to the final in 2013 (3-2 on penalties against Ghana).

Senegal have won five of their last six knock-out matches at the Africa Cup of Nations, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just twice – with their only defeat the 2019 final, against Algeria (1-0).

Senegal could reach the final of the AFCON for the third time — no team have played in more finals (2) without ever winning, while the Lions of Teranga could become the first side to play in consecutive finals since Egypt in 2010.

Senegal’s Sadio Mané has scored seven goals from 27 shots at the AFCON since the start of 2017, with a shot conversion rate of 26% — only Nigeria’s Odian Ighalo (5/12 – 42%) has a better ratio among players to score four or more in that time.—Stats by CAFonline

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