Burkina Faso’s Les Etalons

Burkina Faso will be making its tenth appearance at an Africa Cup of Nations Finals tournament in Equatorial Guinea in 2015.  Les Etalons (The Stallions) finished as the runners-up in South Africa two years ago and will be aiming to go one better this time around.  However the Burkinabes have not been a traditional powerhouse in African football.

The West Africans qualified for their first Finals event in 1978 when the country was still known as Upper Volta.  They did not qualify again until South Africa 1996 when they returned after reconstructive surgery as Burkina Faso.  The recent independents hosted the event in 1998 and under renowned coach Philippe Troussier finished fourth.

However that performance on home turf would not be repeated as the Burkinabes failed to progress beyond the group stages again until 2013, even failing to qualify in 2006 and 2008.  Les Etalons qualified for the 2015 showpiece after finishing second in Group C behind Gabon, but ahead of Angola and Lesotho.

Burkina Faso will be calling upon the likes of defensive duo Bakary Kone and Steeve Yago; of Lyon and Toulouse respectively, and midfield maestro Jonathan Zongo of Almeria if they are to progress beyond Group A where they are pooled with Gabon, Congo and the hosts.

The likes of 28-year old striker Jonathan Pitroipa will be called upon to bang in the goals, and HJK Helsinki frontman Aristide Bance will also need to do his bit if Paul Put’s side are to achieve continental glory for the first time.

Prediction: Group Stage exit