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Burkina Faso still in the race for first in WCQ Group A following draw against Niger

West African neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger played to a 1-1 draw on Friday in FIFA World Cup qualifying, keeping Burkina Faso in contention for a spot in the final round despite a strong Nigerien effort. Youssef Oumarou opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Niger in the first half before Les Étalons rallied to earn a penalty kick of their own in the second half, which was converted by Issoufou Dayo to leave the teams all square. Burkina Faso are now two points behind Group A leaders Algeria, but a win on Tuesday at the North African nation will see the Stallions overtake Algeria.

With the match taking place in Marrakech, Burkina Faso continued to host their designated home fixtures in Morocco and faced stern resistance from their West African rivals. Niger came out with nothing to lose and caused plenty of issues for the Burkinabé defense as the teams traded opportunities in the early stages. The 14th minute saw a good chance for Burkinabé striker Mohamed Konaté, but after finding room to shoot from eight yards out following a corner kick, the Akhmat Grozny player scuffed his shot wide.

Ghanaian born forward Daniel Sosah caused some issues for Algeria in his first two international matches for adopted country Niger, and that trend continued on Friday. After having a shot saved in the 18th minute, the player who plays his club football in Belarus created a golden opportunity for the visitors in the 32nd minute when he beat Burkinabé defender Edmond Tapsoba to the ball in the penalty area and went down under a clumsy challenge from the Bayer Leverkusen player to earn a penalty kick. Oumarou stepped up and delivered a perfect penalty kick off the crossbar and in, leaving keeper Farid Ouédraogo with no chance.

Burkina Faso knew that a loss would eliminate them from qualifying contention, and increased their efforts after being down 1-0 at halftime. The leveler would come soon after the break in the 55th minute and was created by attack-minded right back Issa Kaboré in a similar manner to Niger’s opener. Kaboré made it first to a loose ball in the Nigerien penalty area and tapped the ball past a defender before having his foot stepped on, causing the referee to point to the spot. RS Berkane center back Dayo made no mistake and blasted his spot kick past 18-year-old keeper Naïm Van Attenhoven.

It was all Burkina Faso from then on when it came to opportunities, but Niger did well to hold on for the point. In the 58th minute, veteran midfielder Adama Guira played a ball into the penalty area to find Hassane Bandé, who turned and hit a hard shot that was well saved by Van Attenhoven. Substitute Zakaria Sanogo created danger for the Nigerien defense after his introduction, with a curled free kick from the flank tipped onto the crossbar by Van Attenhoven. Sanogo then sent Konaté in on goal but once again the young keeper Van Attenhoven came up with another excellent reflex save.

The Stallions could not find a breakthrough and had to settle for a draw, but the objective at Algeria remains the same. Highlights of the match are in the button link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV


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