Burkina Faso's Charles Kabore in action against Tunisia at the African Nations Cup on Saturday (28/01). (Reuters Photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Cameroon, Burkina Faso Leave Form Book in Tatters
BY :MARK GLEESON
JANUARY 29, 2017
Libreville. Burkina Faso and Cameroon booked semi-final berths at the African Nations Cup on Saturday (28/01) as another page was ripped out of the form book when the latest favorites for the tournament were eliminated.
Sadio Mane, one of the star attractions in Gabon, was the only player to miss in a shootout as Cameroon knocked out heavily fancied Senegal in Franceville, just hours after Burkina Faso struck late to eliminate Tunisia 2-0 in Libreville.
A distraught Mane, who had been outstanding throughout the two hours of action, had to be helped off the pitch by his team mates after his side were edged 5-4 on spot kicks following a goalless draw.
After the first four players from each side had found the target, Mane took Senegal's fifth kick but the Liverpool forward's effort was saved by young keeper Fabrice Ondoa and Vincent Aboubakar slotted home to win the game for Cameroon.
The Indomitable Lions had been given little chance in Gabon after their squad was overhauled in the months prior to the tournament and eight players then opted to stay behind with their clubs rather than travel to the Nations Cup.
"It's an incredible win to beat Senegal, who were favorites and made it a difficult match for us," center back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui told French television after the game.
"For most if us, it's our first Nations Cup and none of us could imagine we'd still be here. Now we have a chance to write our own piece of history."
Senegal's early departure follows those of holders Ivory Coast and equally fancied Algeria, leaving the outcome of the three-week tournament wide open.
Distraught dressing room
"Senegal is sad again but life goes on," coach Aliou Cisse, who captained the side when Cameroon beat them on penalties in the 2002 final after he, like Mane, missed the fifth kick of the shootout, said.
"It's not easy in the dressing room. We regret we weren't able to live up to our potential."
Cameroon will stay in Franceville for Thursday's semi-final against either the Democratic Republic of Congo or Ghana, who meet in Oyem on Sunday.Burkina Faso await the winner of the last quarter-final between Egypt and Morocco in Port Gentil in Wednesday's first semi-final in the Gabonese capital.
Aristide Bance was the hero for the Stallions after he came on as a 76th minute substitute and thrashed home a free kick four minutes later to give Burkina Faso the lead over a tired-looking Tunisia.
A breakaway goal four minutes later from Prejuce Nakoulma settled the tie as Burkina seek to revive their run to the 2013 final, where they also defied their status as also-rans.
"We don't want to start thinking that far ahead but we always want to go one better than we did," midfielder Abdoul Razak Traore said after the match. "It's pretty much the same team."