Burkina Faso’s fairytale run in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations continued on Sunday with their 1-0 extra-time victory over Togo.
Burkinabe coach Paul Put praised his players for not panicking as at times Togo dominated the play, and says they have now reached their pre-tournament goal of making the semi-finals.
"I told them [the players] we have a target, we are going to try and get to the semi-finals. It’s like a never-ending story," Put said. "But we are very happy, very proud, we have been playing with [the] patience... that we have asked for from the team in training and I am the happiest coach in this tournament."
It sets up a semi-final against Ghana on what the Put calls the team’s "home ground", the Nelspruit stadium.
The pitch has come in for much criticism over the venue, with a fungus having decimated parts of the grass. That has led to sand being used to try and sure up the playing area and it is definitely not suited to flowing football. This will suit Burkina Faso in their tussle with the Black Stars, who will be heavy favourites.
But that also does not take into account the fine run that Put’s men have had in this competition, scoring six goals and conceding just one in the tournament so far. They have shown great attacking verve at times and a solidity in defence that must give them an excellent chance of going all the way in the competition.
Meanwhile, Togo star Emmanuel Adebayor has expressed his disappointment at his team’s exit, but at the same time pledged his future to the national team.
"We are disappointed but we will talk and organise ourselves and look to the future," Adebayor said. "We ended in the quarter-final maybe next time we will be in the final and win it. It’s never too late."