AFCON 2013: Traore leads Burkina Faso attack

Alain Traore

Alain Traore is expected to lead the attack of Burkina Faso at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, beginning from their opening game against Nigeria.

The striker was the scorer of the goal that earned Burkina Faso the ticket to South Africa.

Statistic

Burkina Faso’s previous appearances in African Nations Cup finals have seen them hoist their flag eight times, with the semifinal finish in 1998 their best performance. Burkina Faso is placed 89th in the FIFA world ranking of December 2012.

Coach Belgian Paul Put was banned for life in his own country in 2007 for fixing matches involving his club Lierse with a Chinese betting syndicate. He took over as coach of Gambia in 2008 and signed a three-year deal with Burkina Faso last March. The 56-year-old recently told Belgian television he felt he had been a victim of the betting scandal and needed to take pills to sleep at night.

Key players

Alain Traore (Lorient) Age: 24. Position: Forward

Scorer of the goal that secured qualification for Burkina Faso in February, he has missed the preparations in a race against time to overcome an adductor muscle injury, for which he has been receiving specialist treatment in France. He moved to Lorient in Ligue 1 last year after eight seasons with AJ Auxerre.

Jonathan Pitroipa (Stade Rennes). Age: 26. Position: Midfielder

Pitroipa moved from Ouagadougou to Europe as a teenager to play in Germany, starting first with an African enclave at SC Freiburg and then moving to Hamburg. Rennes paid three million euros for him in 2011 and he has delivered 12 goals for them over the last 18 months.

Charles Kabore (Olympique Marseille). Age: 24. Position: Midfielder

Utility player and the leading light in the Burkinabe side, who can be used at right back, in central defence and as a midfield anchor. He has a long-term contract at Marseille, where he was a championship winner in 2010, but is often the subject of transfer speculation concerning English and Italian clubs.

Prospects

Burkina Faso have competed in eight of the last 10 tournaments but have managed to get past the first-round group stage only once - when they hosted the event in 1998, and then by the slimmest of margins. With Nigeria and defending champions Zambia in their Nelspruit-based group they will need some extraordinary performances to reverse that trend at the 2013 finals.

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