Group B Opener: Cote D’Ivoire vs Burkina Faso

12 Jan

The surprises of Group A have undoubtedly sent shock waves reverberating all around the continent as Group B prepared to take centre stage. Firm favourites, Cote D’Ivoire, were sure of an impressive crowd and fans did not disappoint, clamouring to get a glimpse of some of Africa’s brightest shining stars. The likes of Drogba, Kalou and The Touré Brothers were welcomed to rapturous applause as they stepped out to duel with Burkina Faso for the third time in 7 months.

With the ultimatum delivered to the unfortunate Togolese side, this was the only match to be played in the group today, with Ghana granted a walkover.

The match started at a blistering pace, the Ivorians confident coming into the game, chests puffed out and showing their intent from as early as the second minute. The previous qualifier games ended in victories for the Ivorians, first a 3 – 2 spectacle, followed by a 5 – 0 mauling. The Ivorians looked sure to add to that record.

The enigmatic Drogba latched onto a direct ball over the top and was brought down in the box. A sure penalty. But his reputation must have preceded him, his calls were waved away. Burkina Faso recieved the much needed early wake up call and begun to call upon strength and sinew to ensure a repeat result did not come to pass.

The central defenders, Tall and Koné, busied themselves thwarting Drogba. He spent most of the first half foraging on scraps outwide and providing good passes which, had he been on the end of, Cote D’Ivoire would have found the opener. But it was not to be. Cote D’Ivoire tried time and again to break down the stubborn Burkina Faso defence. Koné and Gervino played well, switching wings at will and troubling the defence, but both spurned a number of good chances. A sight all too familiar of the Ivorians at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Burkina Faso defence obviously learnt how to disrupt Cote D’Ivoire’s play from previous encounters, but this had the knock-on effect of a lack of progress when they got the ball in good positions. Dagano was constantly isolated upfront and rarely found a team-mate in support when he ran the ball towards the corners. Pitroipa, Burkina Faso’s creative outlet, was subdued and barely saw the ball thanks to the star-studded opposing midfield. Burkina Faso had flooded the midfield to prevent penetration and when on the ball didn’t know if they were coming or going. Twice they almost paid a high price for this. First, when Zakora sweetly struck a shot passed the deep-lying defenders, which was well saved. And secondly when Eboué made a good change of direction in the box and appeared to be brought down. Again no penalty. On seeing the replay I couldn’t agree more with the ref, but Burkina Faso played a very risky game. There was some contact but not enough for me.

The second half saw even more chances but still no breakthrough. The Ivorian camp promised a lot more than it could deliver. Burkina Faso gained more possesion, but there was not even a hint at attempted penetration, playing all the way back to the keeper after mounting a promising counter. The point was made when Burkina Faso got their first shot on target after 66 minutes. A free kick which bounced dangerously in front of dodgy keeper Barry.

You begun to sense that if Burkina Faso had actually pressed, they may have stolen the points. But they had to settle to share the spoils. There was a final flurry of activity in the closing period: Drogba finally lost his marker but shot tamely straight to the keeper; Kalou and Bamba got in each others way when unmarked at the back post; Pitroipa had Burkina Faso’s second shot blocked by Kolo Touré; and Dindane curled one straight into keeper Diakite’s gloves.

A shocking result indeed which means that if Burkina Faso manage the same feat against Ghana, one of the favourites could stumble at the first hurdle. Watch this space; I told you it was going to be a special tournament!

Man of the Match: I was going to give it to Diakite for mopping up everything that got past his centre backs, but in light of that, it goes to the centre backs, Tall and Koné who kept the feared Ivorian attack at bay.

Talking Point: As there were no goals I thought I’d bring up one of my favourite things (almost a guilty pleasure) about the Africa Cup of Nations. The refs let the game go and tend to allow good old-fashioned hard tackles from all… well, many, angles. It’s good to see players, for the most part, brush themselves off and get on with the beautiful game rather than some of the writhing we have come to “accept” in the modern game. What i question is this,

“Is there a time to go down?”

If you feel contact, should you hit the deck, or should you only go to ground if you have no other means of maintaining contact with the turf? Fine line.

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2 Responses to “Group B Opener: Cote D’Ivoire vs Burkina Faso”

  1. Jane January 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Thank you so much for these blogs – I feel like I’m actually at the matches. Keep it up!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Group B Opener: Cote D'Ivoire vs Burkina Faso « Out of Africa | Cote today - January 12, 2010

    […] The rest is here: Group B Opener: Cote D'Ivoire vs Burkina Faso « Out of Africa […]

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