African Cup Of Nations PUMA Team Guide #1: Burkina Faso

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After roaring through qualification, The Stallions will hope to improve on the fourth place they achieved in 1998…

Previous tournament form…

As Upper Volta, this landlocked central African nation only made it through qualifying once, losing in the first round in 1984, but since the name change have fared much better. Hosts in 1998, they finished second in Group A behind Cameroon, won a dramatic quarter-final 8-7 on penalties against Tunisia before losing 0-2 to eventual winners Egypt in the semi-finals, and suffering a 4-1 defeat on penalties to Congo DR in the third-place playoff match. Since then they have qualified for five out of the last seven tournaments.

How they qualified…

The Stallions were on fire in qualification, finishing as runaway winners in Group F above Nambia and Gambia. They scored 12 goals, conceded only three and finished six points clear on ten points. The biggest win was a 4-0 thrashing of Namibia in March 2011.

Star players…

The two stars of qualification were Alain Traoré, who plays in the French top-flight and scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 victory over Namibia and Moumouni Dagano, the wily 31-year-old striker who has 30 goals from his 51 international matches. Traoré is a roaming midfielder known for his passing and shooting ability, while Dagano is a free-kick specialist and former Ebony Shoe winner during his time in Belgium between 2001-03.

Watch out for…

Jonathan Pitroipa. The 25-year-old winger and PUMA athlete made 97 appearances in the German top-flight between 2008-11, before becoming victim of a mass clearout and finding a new home with Stade-Rennais, for who he has been in fine form this season. Quick, elusive and full of tricks, he retains possession high up the pitch and will torment opposing full-backs. Another player to keep an eye on is Bernard Traoré, the 16-year-old brother of Alain who made the final 23-man squad despite not being registered with any club.

The man in charge...

Portuguese former central defender Paulo Duarte has been in charge since 2008 and is known as The Mourinho of Africa because of his tactical know how and also because he was coached by his Portuguese counterpart while playing at União de Leiria in 2001-02.

Style of play…

Surprisingly for a team managed by an ex-defender, Burkina Faso like to get the ball out wide and attack as often as possible, while retaining solidity in defence and a fast passing style.

Most likely to…

Score, and score early. Three of their goals in qualification came in the first 15 minutes of play, with another two coming in the first 25 minutes.

Least likely to…

Give up. Trailing 0-1 to Gambia in the final game of qualification, Burkina Faso piled on the pressure to avoid losing their unbeaten status and were rewarded in the 90th minute when that man Dagano leveled.

Football