Zambia, Burkina Faso create history on mixed Africa Cup night
By Tristan Holme ,APNELSPRUIT, South Africa -- History was made at the African Cup of Nations on Tuesday as Zambia became the first defending champion to crash out of the group stage in 21 years, while Burkina Faso reached the second round for the first time on foreign soil.
January 31, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
In the other Group C match, Nigeria set up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash against tournament favorite Ivory Coast with a 2-0 win over Ethiopia, which ended a chaotic campaign by having its second goalkeeper sent off in three games.
Burkina Faso needed only a draw to advance, and qualified top of the group after holding Zambia to 0-0 in a match that was short on both quality and entertainment.
Nigeria finished below Burkina Faso on goal difference after Chelsea playmaker Victor Moses was twice fouled inside the area, and then kept his cool to find the net with both penalties for the Super Eagles.
While Sunday's quarterfinal between Nigeria and Ivory Coast will whet the appetite of fans, the tournament will move into the second round without its title holder after Zambia became the briefest of African champions.
Its reign was always likely to be the shortest yet after the Confederation of African Football switched the African Cup to odd years and played it back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.
The last team to win the continent's showpiece event and then fail to qualify for the second round at the next tournament was Algeria in 1992, but Zambia coach Herve Renard remained philosophical.
“It is better to have won something in your life than to go always in the quarterfinal and never win anything,” he said. “This is not the end of the world. Before we used to go home a lot of times after the first round, and today you have to accept that this is football.”
Burkina Faso had only previously reached the knockout stage when it hosted the competition in 1998.
“I think this is the biggest achievement because they hosted it one time and then they played a semifinal, but it was a long time ago,” Put said. “Because we were very close we had to have the mentality to believe that we could go further for the qualification. I think it's history for Burkina Faso.”
Knowing that the sandy Mbombela Stadium pitch would make free flowing soccer almost impossible, Put set his side up to defend — a tactic which ultimately paid off.