Burkina Faso, also referred to as just Burkina, is a West African country surrounded by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast.
The country, formally known as the Republic of Upper Volta, has a size of 274,000 km², and it is the home of over 15,757,000 people.
Burkina Faso’s national football team, Les Etalons (which means The Stallions in English), has never participated in a FIFA World Cup tournament; in the same way, their run in African football has also been very poor.
Their best finish in a national football competition came in 1998, when they ended up in fourth position in the Africa Cup of Nations, which was then held in their country.
Fortunately for them, Les Etalons have already qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations held in Angola, but they’ll need to take their chances come January 2010, as it will only be the seventh time that they take part in this tournament.
Surely, it is about time Burkina Faso take advantage of their qualification into Africa’s most important competition, so as to raise their name in the history of African football.
Ahead of the initial draw for the Second Round of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualification, Burkina Faso were placed in Pot B.
They then entered Group 9 along with Tunisia, Burundi, and Seychelles.
Unexpectedly, after 3 fixtures set to be played on home-and-away basis, Burkina Faso proved to be their group’s best side by far – with 5 wins out of 6, and 16 points out 18 possible; either 3 points ahead of Second Round top seeds and Group 9 runners-up Tunisia.
The Third Round then came on, and this time – previous to the draw – Burkina Faso were put in Pot 3.
Just then, Burkina Faso’s Les Etalons entered Group E with top seeds Ivory Coast, Malawi, and Guinea.
Such a situation definitely gave them fears, as they knew how difficult their games would be; but at the same time, Burkina Faso knew they couldn’t give up on their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
That didn’t happen though, as Les Etalons failed to top their table after the Third Round’s match-day 6; yet they were capable of finishing in second place to ensure a qualification into the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Burkina Faso finished with 12 points – either 4 points behind leaders Ivory Coast – however, they had reasons to celebrate upon the fact that they winded up with an 8 point lead over third place Malawi.
Les Etalons now have to get ready to entertain their home fans during their Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Angola; but in fact, they still have a long way to go.
On November 20 2009, the final draw for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations occurred, and finding theirselves in Pot 4 ahead of the event, Burkina Faso had a lot to anticipate.
One could think that Les Etalons were really the most unlucky side among all the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations participants, as they somehow fell in Group B, where Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo all lie with sternness.
Burkina Faso’s first game of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations will be against giants Ivory Coast in Cabinda, on January 11, at 16:00 GMT.
Without doubts, considering the likes of strong Ivorian star players such as Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, and Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast definitely look as hot favorites to win this game and steal the 3 points; but a little bit of determination and convincing display from Les Etalons could prove us wrong.
Certainly, despite the fact that The Stallions will play as the visitors, and regardless of the performance of the Ivorians in that particular game, Burkina Faso will want to set their sight on nothing but a win. Aiming for a draw could be dangerous, as distraction could be a big problem caused by the home crowd.
Burkina Faso will then welcome Togo in their next fixture of the tournament. This game will also enfold in Cabinda at 16:00 GMT, on January 15.
Once again, this will not be the time for Les Etalons to relax. In truth, having failed to emerge as African champions in previous editions of the tournament, the Togolese national team could pour out their hearts to ensure a positive result which could reorder the Group B’s standings.
Finally, Burkina Faso will host Ghana’s Black Stars in Luanda, in another afternoon kick-off, beginning at 16:00 GMT.
Ghana are the current Africa Cup of Nations bronze medal holders, and this simply sends a huge warning to Burkina Faso’s side. Perchance, Les Etalons already know how crucial this game will be, but surprisingly, they could do the unpredicted – at least to have a consolation in the tournament – should they be unable take advantage of their previous group stage encounters.
Unlike Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, or even Egypt, Burkina Faso are not a country famous for their football players. They currently have no national team player in the spotlight; nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that their run in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals will be the worst of all.
Burkina Faso, however, can still put their trust in their Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte; who was fired by French Ligue 1 club Le Mans, on December 8 2009.
The 40-year old manager of Les Etalons, Paulo Jorge Rebelo Duarte, has certainly a lot to prove in this prestigious tournament.
His career as a club coach back in Portugal was far from being comparable to those of legendary managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, or Frank Rikjaard.
Now, having taking the job from the Burkina Faso FA, Coach Paulo Duarte must be well-organized enough to face some of Africa’s most successful countries in football.
As his national team’s group presents fierce sides including Ivory Coast and Ghana, Paulo Duarte’s Stallions will have no choice but to avoid disgraces. Perhaps, if ever things go much more positively than expected, Burkina Faso could go out for unforgettable shocks.
In short, the best solution which could help Les Etalons to qualify into the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations’ quarterfinals, would be to give their all in order to appear as the tournament’s surprise package.
The coach revealed his 23-man squad at last and LiveSoccerTV.com is eager to share the list with you.
D. Diakite; G. Sanou; A. Sawadogo
I. Gnanou; B. Kone; P. Koulibaly; M. Ouattara; M. Panandetiguiri; H. Tall
C. Kabore; M. Kere; M. Koffi; A. Nikiema; J. Pitroipa; F. Rouamba
W. Balima; H. Bamogo; M. Dagano; I. Kone; I. Ouattara; W. Sanou; N. Yamego; P. Zoundi
In their entire history, 6 appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations all proved to be unsatisfying for Burkina Faso’s national team.
Undeniably, they are hoping to enjoy a better time in their 7th qualification for the tournament in January 2010.
Below are facts regarding Burkina Faso’s accomplishment in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
2010: Qualified as participants
2004, 2002, 2000, 1996, 1978: Round 1
1998: Fourth Place
On LiveSoccerTV.com, you'll be able to witness Burkina Faso's progress at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola as the site covers the entire tournament from January 10th to January 31st!