May 18, 2024

AFCON 2023:Bertrand Traore Last-gasp Penalty Earns Burkina Faso An Opening Victory Over Mauritania

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By Sedara Philip

Few would have expected Mauritania to cause Burkina Faso many problems in what was only their third ever participation in the prestigious tournament.


The minnows, though, stood firm for an extended period. Burkinabé forwards Cedric Badolo and Mohamed Konaté threatened them successively for the first time in the game midway through the half, but their respective chances failed to test goalkeeper Babacar Niasse.


Mauritania even went close to taking the lead when Aboubakary Koita initially caught Burkina Faso’s Hervé Koffi off-guard with a free-kick, only to see the keeper produce an exquisite save to deny the Lions of Chinguetti the lead for the first time in an AFCON match. Nevertheless, Mauritania coach Amir Abdou will have taken pride in his team’s first-half display, especially as they prevented the Stallions from finding the back of the net before the break for the first time in six AFCON group encounters.


The favourites upped the ante after the interval as they looked to kick off the campaign with all three points, but Mauritania comfortably handled any attacks they faced as the final 30 minutes beckoned. A host of attacking changes for the Lions indicated a change in tempo at the other end, with substitute Amar Sidi Bouna’s thunderous long-range shot forcing Koffi into a brilliant save, denying Mauritania just a second goal at the AFCON finals in the process.


Burkina Faso responded, as Niasse pulled off a terrific one-handed stop to keep Traoré’s drive at bay, but it proved to be in vain as Issa Kaboré won a penalty in stoppage time after being fouled by Nouh El Abd. Following a VAR review, Traoré made up for his earlier miss with a well-taken spot-kick to extend Burkina Faso’s scoring streak to 15 consecutive AFCON games.


While Hubert Velud’s men are undefeated in five H2Hs, their opponents still remain in the hunt for their maiden win at the tournament.

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