AFCON 2013 - Burkina Faso vs. Togo - Adebayor eyeing first ever semi-final place
For Togo, advancing to the quarter-finals represented an epoch moment in their footballing history. The Sparrow Hawks have never reached this stage in the Africa Cup of Nations and this was a target that for a long while did not seem likely due to the saga surrounding star striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s involvement in the tournament. Simply put, if Adebayor remained in the Premier League with club side Tottenham, it is difficult to see how Didier Six’s men could have achieved their aim of a quarter-final place.
Eventually, the talisman did arrive in South Africa with the rest of the Togo squad and has proceeded to be one of the standout players of a tournament that has been lacking in true star quality. His mere presence seemed to scare the life out of the Ivory Coast defenders in the Sparrow Hawk’s opening match and if his finishing had been a little more accurate then his side might well have walked away with more than a 2-1 defeat.
However, the 28-year-old atoned for those misses in Togo’s crucial second match against Algeria, where he scored the opening goal and caused jitters in the Foxes’ defence all game long in a powerful performance, before going on to produce a similar performance in Togo’s final match against Tunisia, where he created the opening goal for Serge Gapke as Six’s men grabbed the draw that sent them through along with the Ivorians.
Togo and Adebayor are certainly not done just yet and now quite rightly have their eyes on a maiden semi-final place against a less than convincing Ghana side, provided they can overcome tournament minnows Cape Verde in their quarter-final.
Standing in the way is Burkina Faso, who surprised everyone by topping Group C ahead of West African powerhouses Nigeria, knocking out defending champions Zambia in the process. The Stallions showed admirable fighting spirit to claim a late draw with Nigeria in their first group match before totally eviscerating minnows Ethiopia in their second, ending their group campaign by shutting out Zambia to send the holders home and ensure they topped the group.
Thus, one would certainly expect Paul Put’s men to be high on confidence heading into their clash with Togo, with a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1998 in the offing. However, the Belgian’s plans have been thrown into turmoil due to the injury suffered by Alain Traore. The 24-year-old from Lorient has lit up South Africa 2013 at times, scoring the last-gasp equaliser against Nigeria before ripping Ethiopia apart almost single-handedly, finding the net twice to make him the tournament’s top scorer at the end of the group stage.
However, Traore’s departure with 10 minutes of the game with Zambia to play has revealed a thigh injury that will rule him out of the rest of the tournament and produces a shattering blow to the confidence of the Burkinabe. With him, Pot’s outfit would have been highly confident of progressing. Without him, the stage is set for Adebayor and company to take glory at Burkina Faso’s unfortunate expense.
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