WASHINGTON, D.C. February 7, 2013 — Burkina Faso pulled off a major upset over Ghana to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations final for the first time. They will now face 1994 winners Nigeria in Johannesburg but will be missing their key playmaker Jonathan Pitroipa.
Ranked 92nd in the world in the FIFA rankings and 23rd in Africa, the Stallions reached the final in a controversial semi-final win over four-time champions Ghana, who ranked 26th in the world and fourth in Africa. Burkina Faso saw midfielder Pitroipa ejected, but after a 1-1 tie following extra-time, held on to win the penalty-shootout 3-2.
Pitroipa, who plays for Rennes in France, was sent off for diving when it appeared he was tripped. He will now miss the final due to the red card suspension. Burkina Faso officials have lodged an appeal over the red card.
“We lodged an appeal immediately after the match,” Stallions’ director Gualbert Kabore told Agence France Presse. “Our FA’s secretary general sent a fax to CAF within two hours after the game according to the regulations. The referee’s decision was outrageous. We are confident of a favorable outcome and Pitroipa would be able to play the final. We will fight and do everything within the rules and regulations to bring justice.”
The Tunisian referee who handled the game, Slim Jdidi, has been suspended by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). CAF officials said Pitroipa will unlikely be reinstated for the game because Jdidi did not admit his mistake in his referee report.
A young Nigerian team, with an average age of 23.5 years on the field, destroyed Mali 4-1 in the other semifinals. Nigeria, ranked 52nd in the world and ninth in Africa, appear on a roll, following the team’s shock win over the favored and 14th world-ranked and top African team, Ivory Coast, in the quarterfinals.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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