Nineteen-year old forward Dango Ouattara was both hero and almost villain for Burkina Faso as they triumphed over Tunisia to make a spot in the last four of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ouattarra scored the game’s only goal as the Stallions triumphed over Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles with a 1-0 scoreline, but was sent off with eight minutes left with a straight red card after an elbow on Tunisia defender Ali Maaloul.
Nonetheless, it did not dampen the Burkina spirits as they eliminated Tunisia in the quarters again for the third time in AFCON history.
The Stallions hope to match their most recent AFCON success when they reached the final in 2013, only losing to Nigeria. They showed resilience and a proper game plan against a very tactical Tunisia side which had beaten the Super Eagles in the round of 16.
The opening half was cagy and toughly contested with both sides having sniffs at goal.
Cyrille Bayala came close for Burkina Faso midway through the opening half when he broke into the box to face goalkeeper Bechir Ben Said one on one, but the custodian managed to block the midfielder’s shot at goal with his trailing leg.
Tunisia had a chance when Wahbi Khazri, who was returning to the starting team after starting off the bench on the round of 16 victory over Nigeria, had a chance. He took a stinging effort from inside the box but the goalkeeper turned it behind for a corner.
Burkina Faso got the opener, and the game’s only goal in the second minute of added time when Ouattara slammed a powerful left footed shot into the box.
The teenager had run into the box off a brilliant Ibrahim Blati Toure pass, before sleekly turning away from his markers and shooting beyond Ben Said.
Coming back from the break trailing by a goal, the Tunisian tactician sought to re-arrange his team and made a change just at the start, bringing in Al Ahly’s Aly Maaloul in place of Oussama Haddadi while later on, Naim Sliti was brought in to replenish the attack while Anis Ben Slimane was rested.
Maaloul came close for Tunisia with a curled low freekick, but keeper Herve Koffi kept him out with a neat low save. Tunisia kept the pressure, but were never allowed space to have a sniff at goal.
They were handed an advantage with eight minutes left as goal scorer Ouattara was sent off after a VAR intervention. The referee Joshua Bondo had initially given him a yellow card after appearing to whip out his elbow against Maaloul’s face in an aerial challenge. But, after consulting the pitch side monitor, the teenager was sent off.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Burkina Faso managed to hold on to the slim win as they earned a semi-final place just like in 2017.
They will take on the winner between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea who play on Sunday night.