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EG v BF

The second round of pool play began again with the host nation, Equatorial Guinea in action in front of another full house at the Estadio de Bata. After a creditable draw in the opening game against Congo they now faced a Burkina Faso side beaten in their opening fixture, 2-0 by Gabon. Esteban Becker, manager of the Equatorial Guinea side shuffled his pack, handing a start to Viera Ellong. Burkina Faso’s danger man Jonathan Pitrioa preferred in this game out wide on the right, Aristide Bance taking up the lone striker role.

The fervent home crowd was not enough to get the Nzalang Nacional players on top form in the first half, a sleepy hesitant display, often allowing the Burkina Faso Stallions extended spells of possession, falling deeper and deeper in defence. Alain Traore and Bance both came close with free-kick efforts, Traore’s needing to be tipped onto the post by the Burkina Faso goal-keeper Germain Sanou. Going forward, Equatorial Guinea’s most creative player was Kike Boula, skilful and with a turn of pace that left defender Mohammed Koffi in his wake on numerous occasions. Shortly before half-time the woodwork was rattled, Traore again the man unlucky not to score, his volley palmed on to post brilliantly by Felipe Onovo. But it would remain scoreless as the teams headed in for the half-time break, the Stallions having played the better football and created the better chances.

The second half continued in the same vein, Burkina Faso in the ascendancy and Equatorial Guinea happy to wait for there chances to counter-attack. More often than not, this would be through Kike Boula but credit due to the Burkina defence who limited the Mallorca man to long range shots and hopeful crosses. Bakary Kone and and Steeve Yago in particular were strong in the heart of defence for the Stallions. If anything, as the game wore on, Burkina Faso became more wasteful in front of goal, Pitriopa blazing over after great work on the left flank. With the final whistle fast approaching, Burkina Faso continued to push for the winner, knowing that a draw would not do their chances of a Quarter-Final berth any good at all. A final chance was to fall to Alain Traore after a marauding run by Aristide Bance who set the FC Lorient up for a shot just inside the 18 yard box. As the shot flew wide, the deflation in the Burkina side was visible for all to see, with a single point from two games they now have it all to do, and will need to rely on other results to reach the knock-out stages. Coach Paul Put bemoaned his side’s wastefulness in front of goal after the game whereas the host nation were far happier with the draw, jubilant at the final whistle and they can ensure their place in the final eight with a win over Gabon on Sunday.