Nigeria, B. Faso qualify for Afcon final Shootout curse strikes Ghana again

NELSPRUIT, South Africa, Feb 6, (AFP): Rank outsiders Burkina Faso will face Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations final after a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Ghana on Wednesday. Ghana’s Udinese midfielder Emmanuel Agyeman Badu had his effort saved by Daouda Diakite after earlier misses by teammates Isaac Vorsah and Emmanuel Clottey. Bakary Kone, Henri Traore and Aristide Bance converted their chances to continue the fairy-tale run of a team that had turned up in South Africa with the modest ambition of ending a 17-match winless Nations Cup run. Now they find themselves meeting Nigeria, 4-1 winners over Mali earlier, for a shot at becoming kings of Africa.

The spot-kick climax was called for after the two teams were inseparable at 1-1 in a thrilling semi-final, with Bance’s second-half goal cancelling out Mubarak Wakaso’s early penalty.
The Burkinabe were deserved winners after almost coming unstuck by a series of strange decisions against them by Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi.
Chief among them was a legitimate penalty claim turned down, and a goal disallowed.
Jdidi wrongly waved away claims for an early spot-kick when John Boye barged into Jonathan Pitroipa, knocking his Rennes teammate unceremoniously to the much maligned Mbombela Stadium turf.
But on 13 minutes the referee had no hesitation in giving Ghana a penalty after an innocuous tangle involving Mady Panandetiguiri and Christian Atsu.


Wakaso stepped up to convert past Daouda Diakite, for his fourth goal of the competition.
The penalty dramas sandwiched an unscripted substitution for Ghana, with Solomon Asante coming on for John Paintsil, stretchered off with a right thigh injury.
Burkina were giving as good as they got in attack, but would have to find a way to trouble Ghana keeper Fatawu Dauda in the second half if they were to make it to Soweto on Sunday.
Burkina Faso’s athletic striker Bance was looking dangerous every time he got the ball.
On 52 minutes Dauda produced a superb save off the Augsburg attacker’s header when he grabbed the ball from underneath the crossbar, Jdidi on this occasion getting it absolutely right, much to the Burkinabe fans’ displeasure.


Down at the other end, Gyan hit Diakite’s woodwork. On the hour, Burkina got the equaliser their endeavour deserved, Bance, coolly firing past Dauda.
Burkina’s Dynamo Bucharest defender Paul Koulibaly was fortunate to escape with just a yellow after lashing out with his boot at a delicate part of Gyan’s body.
Diakite kept Ghana at bay with a diving save to deny Atsu’s attempt to send the game into extra time, which was only minutes old when he tipped over a shot from Harrison Afful.
Bance had his yellow spaghetti-mop hair in his hands on 102 minutes when clear on goal only to shoot high.
Jdidi made another strange decision against Burkina Faso when disallowing Prejuce Nakoulma’s goal after a minor clash with Kwadwo Asamoah.


Pitroipa was harshly sent off on 117 minutes for picking up his second booking of the night, for diving, after he had, in fact, been felled. He misses Sunday’s final.
Dauda produced a series of fine saves to keep Ghana in business, but with the crowd almost to a man on their side, Burkina held their nerve to book an improbable date at Soweto’s Soccer City.
Earlier, Nigeria  trounced Mali 4-1 at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Nigeria took the lead on 25 minutes through a diving header inside the box by defender Elderson Echiejile off a low cross by Victor Moses from the right.
They doubled their advantage on the half hour when Brown Ideye finished off another low cross from the right, this time by Emmanuel Emenike.


Emenike netted his fourth goal of the tournament a minute before the break when his shot off an edge-of-box free kick took a deflection beyond goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa.
Substitute Ahmed Musa slotted home the fourth goal for Nigeria on 60 minutes when he burst clear.
Mali pulled a goal back in the 75th minute through substitute Fantamady Diarra, who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama as the Nigerian defence suffered a lapse in concentration.
“Mali are a good team with a top player like Seydou Keita, but they are not very fast at the back and we took advantage of this to score our first two goals,” said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi.
Patrice Carteron, the coach of Mali, said: “I’m still proud of this team — we worked hard even though we did not reach the final.”
Nigeria took the game to Mali from the first whistle with Chelsea winger Moses shooting wide after just two minutes.

However, Mali settled and came close to going in front after 12 minutes when Kalilou Traore’s header off a corner narrowly missed the target.
And moments later, Momo Sissoko’s shot flew just above Vincent Enyeama’s goal.
Nigeria carved a good chance on 15 minutes when Emenike fired at goal, but Samassa did well to keep it out before the ball was cleared for a corner.
Soon after Nigeria’s second goal by Ideye, the Dynamo Kyiv striker was denied by the young Mali goalkeeper, before Ogenyi Onazi’s chipped shot after a swift counter attack was held by back-tracking Samassa.


In the 47th minute, Seydou Keita’s shot from inside the Nigeria goal area missed as Mali searched for a goal. Molla Wague’s header in the 55th minute came close as Mali continued to pile pressure on the Super Eagles. But Nigeria then created two good chances. First, Ideye hesitated when clear on goal in the 56th minute and a Musa effort that found the net seven minutes later was disallowed for offside.
Enyeama saved a low shot by Cheick Tidiane Diabate before Mahamadou Samassa had the easiest of chances to reduce the tally, but Enyeama kept him out.
Emenike let fly a powerful shot in the 87th minute, but his effort was wide of the target.
In stoppage time, Diarra could have pulled another goal back twice but his efforts missed their mark.

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