As Burkina Faso and Senegal face each other for the third time in Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) history — but the first in a semifinal — two players will certainly be the attraction of this game — Bertrand Traoré on the Burkinabe side and Sadio Mané on the Senegalese front.
This is a match between two teams that have been moving forward since the start of this edition of Africa’s flagship competition and the captains have already contributed to the heyday of their respective teams.
Of the five matches played by Burkina Faso since the start of the tournament, the native of Bobo Dioulasso, Bertrand Traoré has played three.
“For me, Bertrand is our technical leader and captain,” the Stallions’ coach Kamou Malo told Cafonline.com, adding: “I have 28 players in my squad, and the readiest players are lined up for each match.”
For the Burkinabe coach, Traoré remains one of the main keys even if he admits to having tactical plans without his superstar.
“I have a lot of respect for him, for his experience and national team career. Bertrand plays in one of the biggest leagues in the world. He is the team leader in the locker room. I think that this player will have great semifinal and final” added the Burkinabe coach.
At 26, the Aston Villa striker is looking to go as far as possible with the Stallions, with the goal of winning their maiden AFCON title.
Aged 29, Liverpool winger Sadio Mané is playing his fourth AFCON and remains one of the key elements of Aliou Cissé side.
Sadio has taken part in all five matches played by the Teranga Lions since the start of the competition, scoring two goals in the process.
His coach repeats it each time that “he’s our key player and that the the Senegalese number 10 “remains one of the elements I can count on. He is a leader on and off the field.”
Even the adversaries admit it, with Equatorial Guinea coach, Juan Micha saying: “Sadio is a player who can make the difference on his own. He’s a genius.”
The 2019 CAF Player of the Year dreams of handing his country their first AFCON title on February 6, after having narrowly missed it in June 2019 when the Teranga Lions lost the final to Algeria in Cairo.