Match - Sat 8 September, 16:00,
CAR on the brink of history
Prejuce Nakoulma of Burkina Faso
CAR, nicknamed ‘Les Fauves’ (The Wild Beasts), have never appeared at an AFCON tournament but they are now just 180 minutes away from breaking that duck, having knocked out North African heavyweights Egypt 4-3 on aggregate in the previous round.
The Pharaohs may be going through a tough transitional period in their football, and their home leg was played in front of an empty stadium due to crowd violence concerns, which partly explains the shocking result, but there is no doubt that it was a massive upset victory for CAR, who will take great confidence from having ousted the seven-time Nations Cup winners.
But can they now go on and defeat a talented Burkina Faso side who have appeared in seven of the last nine AFCON tournaments? Attacker Foxi Kethevoama, who was a key figure in CAR’s victory over Egypt, believes his team has what it takes to reach the 2013 tournament.
“We wanted to achieve something great against Egypt. We were disappointed when we were eliminated from the last competition, so we were determined to do the maximum to make it in 2013. We are on the right track,” he told FIFA.com after the aggregate win over the Pharaohs.
“Burkina Faso are still the favourites. It will be very difficult. We have to focus on those two games from now on. If our concentration is not at the maximum, we will have a hard time. Eliminating Egypt should not make us euphoric or too exhilarated. We have to remain humble. Never underestimating an opponent is one of our rules.”
For Burkina Faso, known as ‘Les Etalons’ (The Stallions), CAR represents a very real threat to their hopes of appearing in SA 2013 but coach Paul Put believes his team is ready to take on the challenge of ‘The Beasts’.
“We have a good team. The confidence is there after the victory in the friendly match against Togo on August 14 in Paris,” said the Belgian, who was appointed coach of Burkina Faso in March this year.
Put’s side will in all likelihood set out to play a conservative away match in which they will look to silence the rowdy home crowd at the Barthelemy Boganda Stadium in Bangui. If they succeed in doing that, then they will be confident of finishing the job in the return game in Ouagadougou next month.