Togo skipper, Emmanuel Adebayor
The Hawks of Togo will battle it out with the Stallions of Burkina Faso at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit Sunday evening as both countries eye a semi-final berth in the ongoing 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
These two West African countries have laboured in the history of the tournament with Burkina Faso’s best being their fourth-place finish on home soil in 1998. They held the record as the country with the longest run in the tournament (17 games) without a win until they broke that jinx against Ethiopia with an emphatic 4-0 win.
Togo on the other hand is in the quarter-final of the tournament for the first time in seven appearances and this crunch encounter promises nothing than fireworks.
This is the first time they are locking horns in the history of the tournament despite the fact that they were billed to face each other in Group B of the 2010 edition in Angola, but the Togolese withdrew after gunmen attacked their team bus in Cabinda on the outskirts of Angola which saw some of their players losing their lives.
As far as this tournament is concerned, both countries have served fans and spectators with delightful attacking football laced with quick counter-attacks, however, the side which will prove resolute at the back will have the advantage. Burkina who have conceded just one goal look very solid in defence with the likes of Olympique Lyonnais centre-back Bakary Kone, Saidou Panantedegurui, Paul Koulibally and Mohammed Koffi.
They are yet to face a team with a well drilled attacking force like Togo. The men between the sticks will be very crucial in the game with Togo’s shot-stopper Kossi Agassa who is arguably the best in the tournament and his opposite number Soulama Abdoulaye who was superb in the first game against Nigeria until he slipped in the game against Ethiopia.
Serge Gakpe, Dove Wome, Jonathan Ayite and skipper Adebayor will be the key men to lead the Hawks to fly high whilst the presence of Jonathan Pitroipa, Charles Kabore, Kone and Djakaridja Kone will be very crucial if the Stallions are to make it to the semis for the second time in their history