The stage is set for the first semi-final of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algeria as Senegal takes on Burkina Faso on Sunday at 7 PM EAT.
The winner of this match will earn a place in the final and an opportunity to create history for their country.
Senegal, who are yet to taste defeat in the tournament, will be looking to continue their impressive run and secure their first-ever U17 AFCON title.
The Teranga Cubs have been exceptional so far, having not conceded a single goal in the competition.
They are led by head coach Saliou Dia, who has been instrumental in their success and is not feeling any pressure heading into the semi-final.
In a recent statement, Dia expressed his confidence in his team and their ability to produce good football, saying, “I am not under any pressure. My only concern is these players and whether they can produce good football. Everyone is appreciating what we are doing here and we want to keep fighting and continue to the final.”
“It is not an easy match and they are opponents that we must take very seriously.” He added.
Senegal has been dominant in African football lately, with their U20 team clinching the AFCON crown in Egypt, the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in January, and the senior AFCON and BEACH AFCON titles in 2021.
On the other hand, Burkina Faso, who have reached the tournament final three times before and won one, will be hoping to make the return once again to boost their trophy cabinet.
They defeated Senegal in a pre-tournament friendly match in Morocco, but head coach Brahima Traore expects a different challenge this time around.
“We have seen their team and the results they have produced, and definitely, it will not be an easy match,” noted Traore. “It will definitely not be easy given their journey so far. But we will play our hearts out to try and reach the final.”
The semi-final promises to be a closely contested affair between two sides with contrasting styles of play.
Senegal will be relying on their disciplined defense and quick counterattacks, while Burkina Faso will be looking to dominate possession and create scoring opportunities.
In the second semi-final, hosts Morocco will take on two-time champions Mali at 10 PM EAT. Both teams have been impressive so far in the tournament, and also promises to be an exciting match.
The semi-finals will undoubtedly provide more of the same, as the four teams battle for a place in the final and a chance to lift the trophy.