Burkina, Nigeria close Cup of upsets in Soweto

The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which will go down as the year the underdog bit back, concludes here Sunday with 'no hopers' Burkina Faso facing Nigeria in a tantalising final at Soccer City.

The 2013 title was originally intended for Ivory Coast, the top-ranked team on the continent.

Yet veteran Ivorian icon Didier Drogba's Nations Cup last hurrah turned into a damp squib, the Elephants knocked out by Nigeria in the quarter-finals as for the fifth consecutive edition they failed to justify their status as favourites.

Drogba and the rest of the not-so-golden generation were by no means the only African giants to be humbled.

Ghana were stunned by Burkina Faso in the semi-finals while defending champions Zambia failed to even extricate themselves from the first round.

While the heavyweights toiled in the heat of the South African summer, the so-called minnows were making hay while the sun shone.

Debutants Cape Verde made a remarkable appearance in the last eight, as did hosts South Africa, and fellow lightweights Togo performed wonders to reach the quarter-finals from the 'group of death'.

The Togolese sent Tunisia and Algeria packing, and with Morocco also knocked out that left the normally mighty Maghreb region absent from the knockout stages for the first time since 1992.

For Issa Hayatou, president of CAF, the competition organisers, Burkina Faso's presence in Sunday's final is hard proof of the healthy state of African football.

"The fact that Burkina made the final is a positive sign for the development of football in Africa," Hayatou suggested.

"There aren't small or big teams, everyone is on a level footing."

The Burkinabe, whose path to the final has been masterminded by Belgian Paul Put, figured in the nether-regions of ante-post betting lists -- understandable for a team that turned up without a Nations Cup win for 17 matches.

That sorry sequence extended to 18 after a 1-1 draw with fellow finalists Nigeria, then Burkina exploded.

A 4-0 rout of Ethiopia and a 0-0 draw with Zambia put them into the knockout stages, where they saw off Togo in extra time before a stunning penalty shoot-out win over Ghana secured them a final place.

They've made the final the hard way, down to 10 men against Ethiopia, losing their star player Alain Traore to injury, and being on the wrong side of some bizarre refereeing calls in Wednesday's semi-final.

The referee in Nelspruit, Tunisian Slim Jdidi, was suspended by CAF for his dodgy decision-making, which included sending off Burkina's Jonathan Pitroipa, only to later admit he had erred, paving the way for the Rennes player to compete in the final.

Nations Cup matches traditionally have trouble pulling in big crowds and South Africa was no different, with games in Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth and Rustenburg often played out to near empty stands.

But those who did turn up sure put on a show, the intoxicating mix of vuvuzelas (plastic trumpets), drums, and exotic costumes more than making up for the lack of numbers.

As for the football itself, patchy is the word.

The opening day's brace of drab goalless draws staged in a biblical downpour did not augur well, yet things improved, with Burkina's semi-final win over Ghana a Nations Cup classic.

Morocco hosts the next Nations Cup in 2015.

The smart money suggests Nigeria will turn up there as defending champions.

But given the string of shocks here, no one could bet against the Burkinabe becoming the most improbable winners since Egypt lifted the inaugural title in Khartoum in 1957.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. Pagdilao stressed that it has been more than a month since De Lima announced to the media that the DOJ would be …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options