I’m the happiest coach at Afcon - Put
Burkina Faso are a side growing in confidence with every game they play and are set to give Ghana a real run for their money in their semifinal encounter.
The Stallions will face the Black Stars at the Mbombela Stadium on February 6 after beating Togo 1-0 on Sunday night in a match that went into extra time.
Burkina Faso have conceded just one goal in four games and were the surprise packages of Group C, their qualification for the knockout stages coming at the expense of defending champions Zambia.
There was triple reason to celebrate in Nelspruit on Sunday night - the Stallions had reached the last four for only the second time in their history, midfielder Bakary Koné had celebrated the birth of a child just a few days before the game, and as coach Paul Put explained, February 3 is an important day back home in Burkina Faso.
“Congratulations to my players and a befitting birthday present to our president (Blaise Compaoré, who has ruled the country since 1987). It’s like a never-ending story.
“I’m the happiest coach of this tournament now as all we worked on in training came to play today,” said the Belgian.
Put was relieved to see his side triumph in a tough west African derby that saw Emmanuel Adebayor coming close on several occasions to scoring for a valiant Togo side.
“There are always doubts when we got to extra time, but the players were very patient and we got more possession of the ball than Togo.
“Physically, they surprised me with what they gave today, but the will was there and so too now the reward.”
There was of course bitter disappointment for Togo coach Didier Six and his men, who had reached the knockout stages at the African Cup of Nations for the first time ever.
“At this stage of the competition, you can’t underrate any team. We made history to reach the quarterfinals,” said Six.
“We were disappointed to lose tonight, but overall this young team with so many qualities made it first time to the quarterfinal. We will continue to work for the future.”