By: Nthambeleni Gabara
Pretoria: Burkina Faso booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final when they beat Ghana 3-2 on a penalty shoot-out at Mbombela stadium on Wednesday night. As the two West African national teams played to a 1-all draw after 90 minutes and extra-time respectively, it was then decided on penalties.
It was not the first time Ghana’s been eliminated in the semi-finals of the continental showpiece by an underrated side. During the 2012 Afcon tourney they were eliminated by Zambia.
Ghana won a penalty in the 11th minute when Panandetiguiri fouled Atsu in the box. Mubarak Wakaso scored the penalty to put the Black Stars in the lead. However, Burkina Faso had the brighter start of the match even before the Black Stars were awarded a penalty.
In the 31st minute, Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan had an opportunity to double Ghana’s advantage after he was left with only the keeper to beat. He timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap set by Burkina Faso, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the Stallions goalkeeper, Diakite.
A minute later, Kabore fired the ball forward for Nakoulma, who made a brilliant run towards the box, but he unleashed a volley into the stands much to the disappointment of the fans.
Nakoulma continued to disappoint in the front with his poor finish, as a result, Ghana managed to keep their lead until the half-time break. Two minutes into the second-half, Derek Boateng came in for Mohamed Rabiu.
As Burkina Faso continued to look for an early equaliser, Bance tried to beat Fatau Dauda with his header from a well-delivered corner-kick, but Dauda somehow caught the ball which looked to have crossed the goal-line.
In the 59th minute, Pitriopa who had been giving Ghanaian defender Isaac Vorsah a tough time, curled the ball into the box, but it was too strong for his skipper to put behind the back of the net.
However, in the 60th minute, the Stallions finally caused an upset when their top striker Bance received a nice pass from Pitriopa in the box and gave Dauda no chance to save the ball.
The equalising goal seemed to have awoken the Black Stars who thought their one goal was enough to take them to the Afcon finals. Ghana created chances, but they failed to take the lead.
In the 81st minute, Pitriopa connected with Nakoulma in the box, but as always Nakoulma disappointed his fans when he returned the ball to the winger, instead of putting the ball behind the net.
Burkina Faso coach Paul Put who was banned in Belgium for fixing matches was forced to substitute Mohammed Koffi in the 89th minute, after he was stretched off the sand-covered pitch when he struggled with his right leg. Henri Traore came in for him.
Bance failed to become the hero of the night when he caught the Black Stars defence sleeping on the left flank, but the striker blasted a shot into the stands. Nakoulma put his side in the lead, but his goal was disallowed as his foot was very high and close to Dauda even though there was no contact between the two.
As Burkina Faso continued to look for a winning goal, Bance received the ball in the box, but he blasted it into the stands again.
A few minutes later, Bance forced Dauda to palm his shot over the crossbar. However, Burkina Faso was reduced to 10 men when striker Pitriopa was controversially shown a second yellow card for simulation after he was brought down in the box. When the match ended after 120 minutes, it was then decided through a penalty shoot-out.
Burkina Faso will now face Nigeria in their first appearance of the Afcon finals to be played at the National Stadium (FNB) in Johannesburg on Sunday, while Ghana will face Mali in the third place match decider at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth.