Burkina Faso VS. Mali – TotalEnergies AFCONU17 2023 – 3RD Place
We have to finish in style, says Burkina Faso’s coach Traore
Burkina Faso head coach Brahima Traore has said his team intends to finish their TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign in Algeria in style as they aim to go back home with a bronze medal from Thursday’s third and fourth play-off in Annaba.
Burkina Faso’s dream of a second title in the tournament was put off after losing 5-4 on penalties to Senegal in the semi-finals on Sunday in Algiers.
“Of course it was a disappointment for us not to achieve the second of our targets which is to win the trophy. We couldn’t make it and now we have another medal to play for. The players are motivated to get the bronze medal because we want it to be a memory for them,” said the tactician as he spoke on Wednesday in the pre-match press conference.
Striker Souleumane Alio says as much, that the players are focused to go home with something to add on to their World Cup qualification.
“We will give our all to go back home with a bronze medal and make the people of Burkina Faso happy. I missed a crucial penalty and naturally as a competitor, it was painful. But as a player, you need to take in both the good times and bad times and move forward,” Alio said.
Coach Traore says they have prepared well for the meeting and have had time to get themselves psychologically and physically ready, after recovering from the grueling semi-final in the capital.
“We gave the players rest yesterday (Tuesday) because we travelled and also played a very tough match and also hadn’t had enough time to recover. We needed them to be well rested and physically ready because it is another difficult match ahead of us,” said the coach.
He added; “For us, every match is a final and this will be the same too. We will go hard and try to get a result.”
Burkina Faso lost to Mali 1-0 in the group stages and they will look to make amends, with a better performance and possibly a stab at victory.
However, coach Traore says they are not looking at the match as a possible route for revenge, but rather looking to finish the tournament in style and give the players some morale boosting send off.
Third place will be a consolation for us, says Mali’s Coulibaly
Mali’s head coach Soumaila Coulibaly had admitted that the team is still hurt from their semi-final loss to Morocco at the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and says winning the bronze medal match will lift their spirits as a consolation.
Mali, who were searching for a record setting third U17 title were beaten 6-5 by Morocco in Sunday’s semi in Constantine.
“This defeat hurt us a lot but for me as a coach and also a former player, I know such can always happen to a good team in a competition. It hurt us because we felt we had a good chance to make the final,” said the tactician.
He added; “It was a bit difficult for the youngsters and I had to talk to them a lot after the match. I told them we needed to forget the defeat and focus on what is ahead because there is so much for them. We will try to win this third place match as a consolation for them.”
Midfielder Baye Coulibaly has admitted the players are still reeling from that defeat, but affirms they will give their best against Burkina Faso.
“The defeat against Morocco hurt as a lot, but it is not the end of the world. It is up to us to put in the work and correct the mistakes. Each match for us is a final. We will put the defeat behind our backs and go for victory in this match,” noted Coulibaly.
Mali face Burkina Faso in the play-off in Annaba, a side they faced in the group stages and beat them 1-0.
The tactician says he will make rotations in his squad to give some players who did not get a chance to play an opportunity to showcase their talents as well.
“Some players have played more matches and we will try give them a rest and also, those who have not had a chance will have their opportunity. We will set up a competitive team that will get is third place,” noted the tactician.
Mali is playing its third play-ff match in the competition. In 1995, they beat Guinea 2-1 and in 1999, they were 1-0 winners over Cameroon.