Burkina Faso will be delighted with their performance at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. They turned in high-quality performances and fought their way to the last four against all odds. They weren’t favorites to win, but they showed resilience and desire all through the campaign. The Stallions were forced into penalty shootouts by a resilient Gabon side in the round of 16. They stunned Tunisia 1-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a thrilling encounter with favorites Senegal in the semis. The Stallions headed into the game unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions. They picked up five wins and five draws. Their last defeat came in the group stages against Cameroon.
Senegal breezed through the knockout stages. They will feel confident enough to go all the way. They beat Cape Verde 2-0, followed by the 3-1 thrashing of Equatorial Guinea to get to the semi-finals. Senegal headed into the game unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions. They picked up eight wins and three draws. Their last defeat came against South Africa at the COSAFA Cup.
Senegal settled quickly into the game and enjoyed freedom on the left-hand side. They were almost gifted an opener through reckless goalkeeping. Herve Koffi rushed on to a through ball for Cheikhou Kouyate in an attempt to punch the ball. He clattered with the player in the process resulting in both players being taken off the pitch.
Only Kouyate came back. The referee gave a penalty, but it was overturned by VAR after lengthy deliberations.
VAR was again called to action in stoppage time. The referee had awarded another penalty. Edmond Tapsoba had seemingly blocked a shot with his arm. The decision was reversed after all checks were complete.
A tense game that could have gone either way. Senegal struggled to score goals earlier in the campaign and that drabness lasted till the second half of the second half. They found their groove and broke the deadlock in the 69th minute. After a corner, Kalidou Koulibaly’s overhead kick fell to Abdou Diablo and the PSG defender fired the Lions into the lead.
The goal opened up the game more. It was end-to-end stuff after that. A rejuvenated Sadio Mane chased down a loose ball on the left and squared for Idrissa Gueye to tap in. The Lions had the final in their sights. Burkina Faso 0-2 Senegal.
A few minutes later, Blati Toure slotted a goal into the net after great work by Bertrand Traore. Burkina Faso 0-2 Senegal. The goal gave the Stallions a fighting chance, but Liverpool talisman Sadio Mane had other ideas. With an assist to his name, he got in on the goals. He broke away on the counter and cooly slotted home.
On to the finals!
The Lions of Teranga have booked their place in the final. They can dream of their first trophy under Aliou Cisse in the final on Sunday. They will face the winners of Cameroon vs Egypt in the other semifinal game. The Stallions however have been immense in the competition. They left everything on the pitch. They had a fine run and can now bow out with their heads held high.