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Burkina Faso beat Gabon 7-6 on penalties to reach quarterfinals

AFCON 2021

Burkina Faso beat Gabon 7-6 on penalties to reach quarterfinals

Isifu Wirfengla

Limbe, Cameroon

The Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations has kicked off with Burkina Faso edging 10-man Gabon 7-6 on penalties to sail through to the quarterfinals.

The crunch fixture looked like it would end within regular 90 in favour of Burkina Faso until Gabonese skipper Ecuele Manga forced an own goal on Adama Guira.

During a crazy post-match shootout, Ismahila Ouedraogo finally netted the killer after Lloyd Palun failed to convert Gabon’s 8th shot.

The win is a déjà-vu because, before Afcon kicked off, Burkina Faso trounced Gabon 3-0 in a Dubai-based friendly.

Tonight, in Limbe, captain Bertrand Traoré scored his first of the tournament, then squandered a couple of chances with sloppy play. He was substituted after injuring himself.

The crossbar had also denied the Aston Villa forward a goal after penalty was given for a foul over defending Stallion, Issa Kaboré.

Aaron Boupendza could have equalised earlier in the first half had his goal not been ruled out for offside.

A start-stop first half with few flashes of spark.

Back from the tunnel, Burkina Faso pressed harder before wasting one-too-many chances.

Things almost fell apart for Patrice Neveu’s side at the 66th minute when fullback Evrard Vierin Obissa was sent off after picking up a second yellow.

With four fresh legs, Gabon scratched and clawed their way back with the resilience seen against Morocco during their last group match in Yaounde.

It was not to be for the Central Africans despite clinging on throughout extra time.  

It is now over for Gabon who beat debutants Comoros 1-0, followed by draws with Ghana (1-1) and Morocco (2-2) to reach the knockout stage.

The Panthers crashed out of the group stage at home in 2017 and failed to qualify for Egypt 2019.

Their strongest performance came when they hosted the tournament in 2012. They matched their quarter-final finish of 1996.

The Panthers’ build-up has been beset with issues, ranging from bonus obligations, Covid-19 infections, Caf sanction for changing hotel unauthorised to losing striking duo Mario Lemina and Aubameyang.

On the flipside, after an opening-game 2-1 defeat to hosts Cameroon, Burkina Faso defeated Cape Verde 1-0 before being held to a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia. Four points were enough to see Kamou Malo’s team finish second in group A.

Burkina Faso’s best record remains reaching the final in 2013.

The first 8th final encounter of Afcon 2021 was officiated by an all-Moroccan team led by Rédouane Jiyed.

Burkina Faso will face either Nigeria or Tunisia in the quarterfinals.

Isifu Wirfengla
Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Michael WIRFENGLA is holder of a Bsc. in Journalism and taking postgraduate studies in Information and Communication Sciences from the University of Yaounde 2. He has five years of broadcast experience. Apart from freelance/sports reporting, he is a trained, practising football referee in Cameroon.


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