Burkina Faso have produced their country's biggest ever footballing achievement in reaching the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Burkina Faso’s best previous finish was in 1998, when they hosted the tournament, finishing in a respectable fourth place.

Having previously failed to get past the semi-final stages, the Burkinabe will take on Nigeria in Sunday's showpiece finale.

Although the Super Eagles will be overwhelming favourites to take the title, Burkina Faso have already held the Nigerians to a 1-1 draw in the group stages of the competition.

Their other results included a 4-0 success over Ethiopia, as well as playing out a goalless draw with Zambia. A 1-0 victory over Emmanuel Adebayor’s Togo in the quarter-final put them through to the last four, where Burkina Faso needed penalties to beat Ghana in a dramatic and controversial match.

Despite booking Burkina Faso's place in Sunday's final, Paul Put, the Belgian coach who guided them to victory against all the odds, hit out at the referee after seeing his side denied two penalty appeals, had a goal disallowed and had one of their star men, Jonathan Pitroipa, sent off.

"The refereeing decisions were scandalous," said Put.

"We've lost Jonathan Pitroipa now for the final. He's very important to us, but we are 23 players and it's up to the technical staff to devise tactics to beat Nigeria without him and [the injured] Alain Traore."

Put, 56, has previously managed Gambia and Belgian outfits Geel, Lokeren and Lierse. He was banned for three years for his involvement in an alleged Belgian match fixing scandal.

Burkina Faso's team is made up of players scattered around Europe, with none playing for any of the continents giants. Keeper Daouda Diakite and defender Saidou Panandetiguiri play in Belgium, Paul Koulibaly plies his trade in Romania, whilst Bakary Kone is their most high-profile player, as he is on the books of Ligue 1 outfit Lyon.

Maybe after their outstanding performances in this tournament, some of Burkina Faso’s players will start attracting the attention of bigger clubs?

Whatever happens on Sunday and in the future, Burkina Faso have ensured that football fans all over the world will sit up and take notice of this resilient football nation.

 

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