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Tunisia and Burkina Faso vie for last four spot in Cup of Nations
Six goals in two games have fired Tunisia to Saturday’s quarter-final showdown with Burkina Faso in Libreville. Soundly beaten by Senegal in the opening Group B match on 15 January, Tunisia recovered with a 2-1 victory over tournament favourites Algeria and a 4-2 deconstruction of Zimbabwe.
Naïm Sliti scored in the games against the north and south Africans respectively and will be hoping for similar marksmanship as Tunisia try to reach the semi-finals for the first time since claiming the continental crown in 2004.
Sliti joined Lille last summer when Frédéric Antonetti was in charge. He has been replaced by Patrick Collot and he has flourished in Ligue 1 under the 49-year-old.
His presence with Wahbi Khazri, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Youssef Meskani in the 4-2-3-1 of Tunisia coach Henryk Kasperczak means the goal threat has come with pace from either flank as well as through the middle.
But the Tunisians will face a Burkina Faso team welll versed in the arts of snappy underdog. That was their billing four years ago when Paul Put led them to the final in South Africa. Coach Paulo Duarte can still count on the bedrock of that side. Bakary Koné still marshals the defence behind the metronomic skipper Charles Kaboré.
Even though they have been robbed of Jonathan Pitroipa’s speed, Burkina Faso have the experience of Alain Traore and Préjuce Nakoulma in attack.
"Tunisia have scored six goals but we’ve been solid defensively," said Koné on the eve of the encounter with Tunisia. "We’ll be counting on that to stop them and we can score goals."
Koné added: "We’ve been getting better and better gradually. We’ve got a few players who are here at their first Cup of Nations. I think they’re going to show they’re up to the challenge and show their talents."