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Saturday, December 2, 2023

CHAN: Highlights, standings and players to watch after the second round of games

Every team at the African Nations Championship in Cameroon has played two matches, and that means it is time to go through the highlights, standings and most importantly to spotlight some more players. The football continues to improve as the teams find chemistry and the players get comfortable under the big spotlight, so here is the latest update on the tournament before the last stretch of the group stage:

Group A

Cameroon (Hosts)211014
Burkina Faso210113

Matchday 2 Results

Cameroon 1-1 Mali  (Highlights)
Burkina Faso 3-1 Zimbabwe  (Highlights)

Matchday 3 Fixtures (24 January)

Cameroon v Burkina Faso
Zimbabwe v Mali

Featured Player

Siaka Bagayoko- Mali (Djoliba AC)

With the majority of Mali’s starting defensive line picked from the championship-winning Stade Malien, the one member not from Stade continues to make quite a name for himself. 22-year-old left-back Siaka Bagayoko may be the best flank defender in this tournament due to his all-action style and relentless motor. Tournaments like the CHAN allow players to give a glimpse of what they are capable of and Bagayoko has shown a little of everything. His aggression, instincts, flashes of technique and ability to initiate going forward quickly transition Mali from defending to attack:

Featured Player

Ismahila Ouédraogo- Burkina Faso (AS Douanes) (Middle)

A major reason why Burkina Faso struggled in their opening match loss to Mali was that Les Étalons’ central midfielders Ismahila Ouédraogo and Clément Pitroipa failed to make an impact. While Pitroipa came on as a substitute against Zimbabwe, Ouédraogo started and returned to form with a dominant performance. The 21-year-old AS Douanes midfielder buzzes around and gets his head up quickly to release the ball either short or over distance. Voted best defensive midfielder in the Burkinabé Premier League for the last two seasons running, a look at the video below illustrates why in Ouagadougou he is often called by the name of a famous player who shares a similar physical stature, N’golo Kanté: