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Burkina Faso back in contention following shutout of Cape Verde

Les Étalons have their first points at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after Burkina Faso delivered a solid defensive performance during their 1-0 win against Cape Verde. Hassané Bandé finished off an excellent attacking movement to put the Stallions up soon before halftime before holding off Cape Verde in the second half to move into second place in Group A. All Burkina Faso needs is a tie or win in their final group stage match against Ethiopia while Cape Verde head into Monday’s matchup against Cameroon in a similar situation.

It was an even affair between the teams throughout most of the match, but Burkina Faso came out particularly determined after a disappointing collapse against Cameroon in their opening game. The Stallions nearly scored within the opening five minutes, but Shamrock Rovers center back Roberto Lopes made a timely intervention in the Cape Verdean penalty area to deny Gustavo Sangaré’s shot. In the 13th minute it was star center back Edmond Tapsoba, returning to the lineup after controversially missing out on the Cameroon match, who attempted a shot off a free kick that was pushed away by Cape Verde keeper Vozinha.

Pressure continued to come throughout the first half from the Burkinabe team. Vozinha was called into action again in the 26th minute, denying a low shot Bandé was sent in on goal. The Blue Sharks finally got their first good luck at the Burkinabe goal on the half hour mark. A long ball from the defense was brilliantly flicked by midfielder Jamiro Monteiro into the path of a wide open Júlio Tavares, but the striker’s shot was well saved by Burkinabe goalie Hervé Koffi.

Bandé’s 39th minute goal came thanks to the initiative of attacking right back Issa Kaboré, who was a thorn in the side of the Cape Verdean defense throughout. The Troyes full back played a combination with Cyrilla Bayala to get to the end line, launching a pinpoint cross to find the run of Bandé. The Istra 1961 forward did well to keep his eyes on the ball and chested his finish past Vozinha from five yards out.

Cape Verde tend to be more dangerous when they are able to counter-attack rather than chasing the game, and conceding the opening goal forced the Blue Sharks out of their comfort zone. The Burkinabe defense, anchored by the center back pairing of Tapsoba and Issoufou Dayo as well as a quality keeper in Koffi, were nearly impenetrable for the remainder of the match.

Cape Verde came closest to equalizing around the hour mark when a corner kick service from Kenny Rocha Santos found defender and captain Stopira, who bounced his header into the turf and over the bar. Soon after excellent midfield work from Monteiro saw the Philadelphia Union player win the ball and start a quick counter with a pass out to Garry Rodrigues. After cutting in from the left wing to shoot with his right foot, however, Rodrigues was denied by a save from Koffi.

The final half hour was quite comfortable for Burkina Faso as they held out for the result they needed. Highlights of the match are below.

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