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Sports

Goodbye CAN says Burkina Faso

media Burkina Faso's Charles Kabore (L) and Djakaridja Kone (R) challenge Congo's Prince Oniangue AFP PHOTO /Khaled Desouki

Burkina Faso’s surge to the 2013 CAN final was the classic tale of the underdog overcoming the odds. Even in the defeat to Nigeria in the final there was the celebration that players from a tiny nation of 17 million souls could display such pedigree.

But that was two years ago in the dry heat of Nelspruit and Johannesburg. Here in the clammier climes of Equatorial Guinea, Paul Put’s protégés have failed.

They drew one and lost two of their three Group A games to finish bottom of the pile.

Put’s future may be in jeopardy after such a disappointing adventure. If the 58-year-old Belgian does depart after three years in charge, he will have at least led them to their most salient position in the African game.

Click here for our coverage of Africa Cup of Nations 2015

He will also have clarified the difficulty of the journey. “It’s not new what I’m saying … I’ve been saying it for a long time in fact. We are knocking on the door but we haven’t yet entered. People in Burkina Faso must understand that there’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do and being eliminated after the first round in this CAN proves that.

"It’s true we didn’t have much luck in this competition but the two teams who were expected to advance – ourselves and Gabon – haven’t progressed."

"Just because you play one final doesn’t mean that you are there. There’s a long way to go."

Part of the reason for the 2015 setback was the impotence of the vaunted strikeforce comprising Jonathan Pitroipa and Alain Traoré. The duo were utterly dynamic two years ago shredding defences seemingly for regal amusement. But forewarned, back lines disarmed them consistently. On the rare occasions when they did get a sight of goal, the woodwork came to the rescue.

The must win match against Congo was a microcosm of their campaign. Needing to beat the group leaders by two clear goals and hope that Gabon would overcome Equatorial Guinea, neither scenario happened. Even when Burkina Faso found a late equaliser against Congo, they could not even threaten a last gasp comeback.

"We put a lot effort in to equalise," said Burkina Faso striker Aristide Bancé who hit his side’s only goal in the three matches in Equatorial Guinea. "When we did, we thought we could do it. But once they scored the second we knew it was over."

Bancé, who plies his domestic trade at HJK Helsinki, was generous in defeat. "You have to give credit to the Congolese players, they continued to go for it even after we’d got back into it. They did well."

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