Africa Cup of Nations - When news came through that Burkina Faso striker Alain Traore had been ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a thigh injury, one could only conclude that the hope to reach the semi-finals for the second time in the country's history was no more. The tournament's top scorer was stretchered off in Tuesday's 0-0 draw against former champions Zambia after only 12 minutes.
He will miss his team's quarter-final clash against Togo on Sunday.
Losing a three-goal hero Traore is a huge blow for Burkina Faso, who have shown throughout the tournament that they can put up well against the big boys, as Nigeria and Zambia can testify.
One of the underdogs to the title along with Cape Verde, Togo and Mali, Burkinabe (at least on paper) has the easier last eight fixture against Emmanuel Adebayor-led Togo team, which is playing in their first ever quarter-final of the competition. Togo were fortunate to reach this stage after surviving not only relentless pressure for most of the second half, but also a late controversial penalty in their decisive Group D game against Tunisia on Wednesday.
Unless CAF nullifies all yellow cards from the group stage, seven Togolese players, including Adebayor and goalkeeper Agassa are walking a tight rope after receiving bookings in the last game and whoever gets another booking will surely miss the semi-final if their team advances to face either Ivory Coast or Nigeria.
It's not surprising that West African teams have dominated the 2013 competition with seven of the last eight teams all from that region-only hosts South Africa standing in the way of a clean-sweep for West Africa.
Unfortunately, teams close to the Cecafa region, Ethiopia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been all knocked out of the competition so early for the comfort of the standard of football in the region.
The North, which has always given the West a good for their money, also has some to make up, especially after the horror show in South Africa this time round.
By Hamza Nkuutu
The New Times/01/02/2013