Burkina Faso/Guinea Bissau: #AFCON2017 Burkina Faso Powers Through to Quarterfinals

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\n \n Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

\n In a major blow to Burkina Faso, Jonathan Pitroipa, at right, has been ruled out of the rest of the Africa Cup of Nations because of an injury.

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Burkina Faso were certainly not expected to top their 2017 African Nations Cup Group A amid heavy competition from hosts Gabon and fancied Cameroon, but have proven they could be a tough nut to crack as they seek to repeat their heroics of four years ago.

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The Burkinabe were shock finalists in South Africa in 2013 before losing to Nigeria, and there must be a sense now that they could go one better than that.

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They produced a solid, professional display in defeating Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in their final pool match on Sunday and now await Monday’s Group B games to see who their quarterfinal opponents will be.

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It is likely they have a date with Tunisia, though Algeria and Zimbabwe are still in the running.

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Goals from Prejuce Nakoulma and Bertrand Traore gave the Burkinabe the victory, a first for coach Paulo Duarte with the team at the Nations Cup finals at the eighth attempt.

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He also led them in the 2010 and 2012 tournaments,  and will also feel he did much of the spade-work for their 2013 final run when the side was led by the Belgian Paul Put.

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Guinea-Bissau may have finished bottom of their pool but can hold their heads up high in a maiden Nations Cup finals appearance.

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They drew 1-1 with Gabon, let a lead slip against Cameroon and then appeared to run out of steam in their last match against Burkina Faso.

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But the tournament should serve as a springboard for future success for the country, as the 2013 finals did for Cape Verde. The next target for coach Baciro Candé will be to keep his mostly European-based players interested in playing for the side with the 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers to start in June.

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That tournament will be played in Cameroon and for Guinea-Bissau to show real progress, they must qualify for those finals too, proving that their appearance in Gabon was not in flash in the pan.

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