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AFCON U-17: Senegal advance to the final on penalties after strong challenge from Burkina Faso

Senegal are through to their first ever Africa U-17 Cup of Nations final following Sunday’s 5-4 semifinal victory over Burkina Faso in a penalty shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in Annaba, Algeria on Sunday. Abdou Aziz Fall opened the scoring for the Senegalese early in the first half but Burkina Faso leveled late through Emmanuel Ouédraogo to set up a nail-biting series of spot kicks where a miss from Burkinabé forward Souleymane Alio left Senegal as the winners. Senegal will face the winner of Sunday’s later semifinal between Morocco and Mali on Friday.

After dominating as the winners of Group A, the Senegalese team were evenly matched by Burkina Faso who were comfortable with the direct and open manner of play. The Burkinabé nearly took the lead in the 12th minute when Ousmane Camara played a teasing pass through the Senegalese six-yard box but neither Souleymane Alio nor Aboubacar Camara could apply the final touch.

A promising start for Burkina Faso was not rewarded, however, when four minutes later a combination down the left flank led to a cross that resulted in two shots on target. Burkina Faso goalkeeper Isidore Traoré did well to save both attempts but the rebound fell kindly for Senegal midfielder Fall who was able to take a touch and fire low past Traoré.

Burkina Faso continued to look like the more threatening team but a disastrous start to the second half resulted in a handball and a penalty kick for Senegal inside the opening minute. Star playmaker Amara Diouf stepped up to take the spot kick but placed his effort off the post and wide. Senegal and Diouf would regret the failure to take advantage of their opportunity late on when an 83rd minute free kick for Burkina Faso ricocheted off the wall out to Emmanuel Ouédraogo who fired a perfectly struck low shot past Senegal keeper Serigne Diouf to equalize and spoil Senegal’s perfect defensive record in Algeria.

Penalty kicks arrived to decide the winner and similarly to the preceding ninety minutes, there was little to separate the teams. Both teams were perfect through the opening four rounds and Amara Diouf atoned for his earlier miss from the spot by converting Senegal’s fifth attempt. Souleymane Alio stepped up to level on the fifth attempt for Burkina Faso but the forward put his shot off the crossbar and a relieved Senegalese team celebrated passage to their first ever AFCON U-17 final.

Highlights from the match and the penalty shootout are below.

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