THE second round of group games from the African Cup of Nations gets going on Wednesday afternoon. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) is on the hunt for more winners.
Equatorial Guinea v Burkino Faso | Wednesday 16.00 | Eurosport
Tournament hosts Equatorial Guinea put in a brave display in the Nations Cup opener on Saturday afternoon. Having taken a first-half lead, the National Thunder came close to adding to their advantage against Congo before succumbing to a late equaliser.
But those who watched the curtain-raiser will have noticed the home side fading badly in the final 20 minutes. Congo could easily have stolen all three points and missed a few glaring opportunities to grab a winner. I’m not sure Burkino Faso will be quite so generous on Wednesday.
The Stallions squandered a number of excellent chances themselves when going down 2-0 to Gabon in their opening Group A game but there’s still plenty to like about Paul Put’s men. That defeat was only their 10th in 36 internationals and the 2013 runners-up have the quality and craft to engineer enough openings to kill this game.
Burkino Faso are an intelligent team. They’ll be organised and the collective spirit amongst the side is as good as any in the competition. Having watched them perform reasonably well against Gabon, I’m convinced they’re good enough to reach the quarter-finals and overcome their next hurdle.
As well as looking out on their legs in the final quarter of their opening fixture, Equatorial Guinea remain a bit of a rabble. Esteban Becker was only given the role at the turn of the year and that 1-1 draw with Congo is their only registered match since June. They’re the lowest-ranked nation in the tournament and have lost six of their last 10 known outings.
They do boast a number of threats in attacking areas. Middlesbrough attacker Emilio Nsue grabbed their goal on Saturday and has assumed captaincy with veteran Juvenal dropped whilst Iban Edu and Javier Balboa looked lively. But can they keep Burkino out? No.
The National Thunder have kept just one clean sheet since 2012 and will come up against a quality forward-line on Wednesday afternoon. Chelsea youngster Alain Traore and Jonathan Pitroipa are a class above what the hosts have been accustomed to playing against and should help fire the Stallions off the mark.
In the past 48 hours Burkino Faso have drifted in the market but I’m undeterred. Available at odds-against (21/20 William Hill) I’m happy to invest my faith in the Stallions.
Equatorial Guinea v Burkino Faso – Burkino Faso to win (21/20 William Hill)