Group stage ambition for Stallions

For Burkina Faso, 2012 was a less than satisfying year. Their results were poor and even their qualification for South Africa 2013 was stuttering.

They booked their spot with a home win and an away loss to the Central African Republic (CAR), edging the tie 3-2.

Their first nine matches of the year delivered six losses and three draws, but most recently they beat the CAR and Congo DR. They had better hope that is an indication that their fortunes are now on the up because from January 2012, when they were ranked 66th by Fifa, they have since fallen to 89th in the world.

Since finishing fourth in 1998 when they hosted the event, the Stallions have not progressed beyond the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations, so that will be their first aim in South Africa.

Striker Moumouni Dagano is a proven goal scorer at international level and the Burkinabe will look to him to provide goals again. Now playing for Qatari team Al-Sailiya Sport, Dagano has also played top flight football in France and Belgium, where he won the Ebony Shoe, awarded to the top African player in 2002.

His international debut came three years before that, in 1999, making him, at the age of 31, one of most experienced internationals at Afcon 2013 in terms of years playing for his country. He was the joint top goal scorer in the qualifying stages for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, netting 12 times to match Fiji’s Osea Vakatalesau.

At 23, Alain Traoré is a much younger striker, but he, too, has proved effective on the international stage. He scored twice in Burkina Faso's 2-1 victory over the CAR, which gave them a 3-2 aggregate victory and passage to South Africa for Afcon 2013.

Looking back on recent unsuccessful qualifying campaigns, Traoré, whose younger brother Bertrand is also in the national team, told "There were lots of young players back in 2010. We all lacked experience. Year after year, we have acquired maturity and self-confidence. Most of us now play in good championships and most of us are starters in good clubs. It is quite new for the Stallions."


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