Equatorial Guinea vs Burkina Faso | Wednesday 21 January | Bata | 18:00
Group A’s second round of matches get underway on Wednesday evening with hosts Equatorial Guinea coming up against Burkina Faso. Both sides were left disappointed after their opening games and will be looking to get a first win under the belt.
To Win (90mins)
Burkina Faso 1/1
Hosts Equatorial Guinea looked set to start the Africa Cup of Nations with a victory but a goal from Congo in the 87th minute ruined their hopes of going top of Group A. Captain Emilio Nsue, who plays as a forward for Middlesbrough in the English Championship, opened the scoring by slotting home following great work from young winger Kike Seno, who plays for Mallorca’s B team in Spain. Equatorial Guinea spurned a number of chances to extend the lead and saw another goal from Nsue controversially ruled out for offside before Congo went on to grab an equalizer. Equatorial Guinea were disqualified from the AFCON qualification play-off round after fielding an ineligible player who was born in Cameroon but found out two months prior to the AFCON that they would be granted automatic qualification after stepping in as hosts after Morocco pulled out. They defeated Mauritiana 3-1 on aggregate over two legs during the play-offs to get to the group stage of qualifying, winning 3-0 at home after losing 1-0 in the away leg. The National Thunder, as they are nicknamed, are the lowest ranked nation in the tournament at 36th on the CAF rankings, eighteen places away from their opponents.
Pitroipa and Alain Traore are the two stars of Burkina Faso football but on the day their most impressive player was Chelsea youngster Bertrand Traore. Traore junior showed why he has been such a highly rated prospect. At 19-years-old the attacking midfielder, who is currently on loan at Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie, has already made eighteen appearances for his national team. Burkina Faso are a team in the midst of a resurgence. After a horrendous AFCON 2012 qualifying campaign, they have been on the rise since the arrival of Put. In little over a year, Put has completely turned the side around, leading them to the final of the 2013 AFCON, where they lost 1-0 to Nigeria. Besides Gabon, no one else really troubled Burkina Faso during qualifying with three wins and a draw over the other two sides in the group, Angola and Lesotho.
VERDICT: Burkina Faso 1/1
These sides have only met once before in a friendly match in 2011, with Burkina Faso coming out 1-0 victors. Equatorial Guinea have some good individuals but as a team could fall short against Burkina Faso. The Stallions’ defence should make amends for letting Gabon score twice and their talented attacking force should surely finish off a couple of chances this time. Burkina Faso are tipped for the victory.