YAOUNDE: Kamou Malo’s Burkina Faso face Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals on Wednesday with a young team that has brought cheer to a country in turmoil under a local coach who has undertaken a remarkable rebuilding job.
Malo dedicated the Stallions’ quarter-final victory over Tunisia “to our people who are being tested by current events” after a military coup in the country which is battling a jihadist insurgency.
Burkina Faso was suspended from the African Union on Monday and it cannot be easy for their players to remain completely focused on the objective of upsetting Senegal and progressing to the final.
In the circumstances, having Malo, 59, at the helm may be especially precious right now.
Burkina Faso have reached the Cup of Nations final before, losing to Nigeria in 2013.
Then they were coached by the Belgian Paul Put, while when the Stallions finished third in 2017, the man in charge was Portugal’s, Paulo Duarte.
It is common for African national teams to be led by a European, and two of the other three semi-finalists in Cameroon have a Portuguese coach – Carlos Queiroz and Toni Conceicao are in charge of Egypt and the hosts respectively, while Aliou Cisse is the Senegal boss.
In Burkina Faso, Duarte’s failure to lead the team to the 2019 AFCON persuaded the federation to change direction.