Underdogs Burkina Faso plan on upsetting fatigued Egypt

Burkina Faso are hoping to emulate their best finish at the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Egypt and reaching the final, which they did in 2013.
Burkina Faso are hoping to emulate their best finish at the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Egypt and reaching the final, which they did in 2013. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIBREVILLE (Gabon) • Weariness will worry Egypt as they seek to extend an Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals winning streak to six matches by beating Burkina Faso on Wednesday.

Surprise package Burkina Faso overcame Tunisia in the first quarter-finals last Saturday evening, more than 24 hours before Egypt edged out Morocco.

Many pundits believe this could give the West Africans an advantage, especially if the match goes to extra time.

Egypt's Argentinian coach Hector Cuper admitted he was concerned: "It is not an ideal situation, but we have no choice but to adapt. The players will be given time to rehabilitate and hopefully they will be ready come Wednesday night."

Despite the disadvantages, the seven-time champions have reserved some of their finest performances for the last-four stage, thrashing Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast 4-1 in 2008 and Algeria 4-0 in 2010.

A big win against Burkina Faso is unlikely, however, as Egypt have clawed rather than cruised past opponents in Gabon.

Following a 0-0 draw with Mali, they have ground out three consecutive 1-0 victories against Uganda, Ghana and Morocco.

While scoring only three goals - an average of one every 120 minutes - must trouble Cuper, Egypt are the only side not to concede a goal in this tournament.

Which is why Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte avoided making any gung-ho predictions.

He said: "My team are capable of producing fantastic football. There is quality and confidence among the boys."

Like Egypt, Burkina Faso enter the semi-finals boasting an unbeaten record after victories over Guinea-Bissau and Tunisia and draws against Cameroon and Gabon.

Goalkeeper Herve Koffi has conceded two goals, but none from open play.

In front of Koffi, Burkina Faso have an experienced "spine" in Bakary Kone, captain Charles Kabore, Prejuce Nakoulma and Aristide Bance.

Cameroon and Ghana, both four-time African champions, meet on Thursday in the second semi-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Underdogs Burkina Faso plan on upsetting fatigued Egypt'. Print Edition | Subscribe