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The Semifinals at the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations 2021 tournament opens with Burkina Faso taking on Senegal at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde on the evening of Wednesday 2 February.
The Stallions earned their place in the final four with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Tunisia in the previous round, with Dango Ouattara the hero after he scored the only goal of the game (though he was later sent off for elbowing an opponent in an aerial challenge), while The Teranga Lions battered Equatorial Guinea 3-1 thanks to strikes from Famara Diedhiou, Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr.
Burkina Faso coach Kamou Malo had dedicated his team’s showing at the AFCON to their compatriots at home recovering from a recent coup in the country: “You know the country is going through a difficult time even if the situation appears to be a bit more stable,” said Malo. “I’d like to take this opportunity to pay homage to the people who despite everything stay strong. I’d like to believe our team is the mirror image of those people … we will stay strong in spite of everything.”
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse acknowledges his team’s tag as one of the favourites, but is insisting they will take nothing for granted: “We will approach this match with humility and confidence,” said Cisse. “Burkina Faso is in the process of succeeding in its AFCON. It’s a team in full confidence. This AFCON showed us a lot of surprises. If they are here, it is because their team has merit.”
Cyrille Bayala – The Burkina Faso attacker has been one of the key driving forces behind their excellent showing at the AFCON, with his ability to create and score goals from the number 10 position giving an extra edge to the Stallions’ forward play.
Sadio Mane – The Liverpool striker is Senegal’s attacking talisman, with his speed and finishing off the left flank proving so tough for defences to handle. He will be determined to take Senegal one step closer to AFCON glory.
In head-to-head stats, Burkina Faso and Senegal have met in 12 matches across all competitions, dating back as far as 1987. The Teranga Lions have claimed three wins compared to two for the Stallions, while seven games have been drawn.
The teams’ most recent meetings were in September 2017, as part of World Cup qualification for the following year’s tournament in Russia, with a 0-0 and 2-2 draw in Dakar and Ouagadougou respectively.
Battles to watch
Kamou Malo v Aliou Cisse – Malo has masterminded the Stallions’ march to the final four in impressive style, but his battle of wits against Cisse will be his toughest test yet.
Ibrahim Blati Toure v Idrissa Gueye – Toure has been the key man in Burkina Faso’s midfield, with his all-round play set to provide a stern test for Gueye in a vital ‘engine room’ battle that could go a long way in deciding the match.
Herve Koffi v Famara Diedhiou – Koffi has been a notable shot-stopper between the sticks for Burkina Faso thus far, and his reflexes will be put to an even further test by Senegal striker Diedhiou.
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Semifinal broadcast details, 2 February 2022
Wednesday 2 February
21:00: Burkina Faso v Senegal – LIVE on SuperSport AFCON, SuperSport Maximo 1, SuperSport Maximo 360 and SuperSport GOtv Select 2