The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe/Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso Rekindled As Pitroipa Returns

Johannesburg — BURKINA Faso's Stallions received a huge boost ahead of their African Cup of Nations final against Nigeria at the National Stadium tomorrow when star forward Jonathan Pitroipa was given the all clear to play after the Confederation of African Football nullified his semi-final red card yesterday. The Caf

executive committee which met in Sandton yesterday endorsed an earlier decision by the organizing committee to nullify the red card issued to Pitroipa after the striker was shown a second yellow card for simulation.

After controversial Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi admitted he made a mistake by booking the striker for diving, it set the tone for the Stallions to appeal against the expulsion. Jdidi who has since been suspended by Caf turned on a poor performance in the semi-final between Burkina Faso and Ghana which the Stallions won 3-2 on penalties after both sides had been tied 1-1 after extra time.

Some controversial officiating by the referees have threatened to mar the 29th edition of the Nations Cup and also raised questions about the manner in which acting Caf referees chairman - Tunisian Tarek Bouchaoui - has been making his appointments.

But it is the decision to nullify Pitroipa's red card which has come as a huge boost for the Stallions who are already robbed of kingpin Alain Traore through injury.

Burkina Faso had been anxiously waiting for the Caf decision since Wednesday night when television replays clearly showed that Pitroipa had been wrongfully booked for simulation when he had in fact been clipped on the knee following some contact with Black Stars defender John Boye.

Caf only nullify such decisions when the referee has admitted an errors in his report.

"The referee wrote the letter to the review committee saying he had made a mistake.

"The review committee examined footage of the incident and agreed Pitroipa had been fouled.

"It asked the disciplinary committee to verify its decision, which [it] is entitled to do under the terms of Caf's rules and regulations.

"Every incident in every match is reviewed whether good or bad and the review panel asks the referee to explain himself on how he would have arrived at his decision so there is a strict analysis of the referees performances.

"It was the same story when Benet (South African referee) booked the wrong the wrong player," said the official. Burkina Faso media officer Gabriel Nacoulma welcomed Caf's ruling ahead of the showpiece decider.

"We are all very happy with the decision, he is a very important player for us," Nacoulma told BBC Sport.

Burkina Faso are playing in their first ever Nations Cup final having only reached the quarter-finals when they hosted the event in 1998.

The Stallions had until South Africa 2013 never previously won a Nations Cup match on foreign soil.

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