PRETORIA: Burkina Faso scored the biggest win of the 2013 African Nations Cup so far on a night when goalkeepers dominated events with one converting a penalty, one being sent off and another accusing a referee of making “one of the worst decisions in the history of football.”
All the record books will show of Group C, however, is that Burkina Faso beat Ethiopia 4-0 and champions Zambia needed a late controversial penalty to draw 1-1 with Nigeria.
The penalty scorer was Zambia’s keeper Kennedy Mweene, the keeper sent off was Burkina Faso’s Abdoulaye Soulama and the goalie whose remarks could land him in trouble with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was Nigerian Vincent Enyeama.
The experienced 30-year-old, who now plays his club football in in Israel, did not hide his feelings after being his opinion of Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead’s of a award to Zambia a penalty in the 85th minute after a soft challenge by defender Ogenyi Onanzi on striker Emmanuel Mayuka.
Enyeama said: “It was one of the worst decisions in the history of football. It was the worst call I have seen live. It does not belong in football in my opinion. There is no place for a call like that in a match of this magnitude between the champions and Nigeria. What is happening to officiating in Africa if we have calls like that?”
Enyeama’s miserable night was completed when Mweene, his opposite number, strolled up from the other end of the field to beat him from the penalty spot and give Zambia a 1-1 draw which keeps them very much involved in the fight for a last eight place.
Mweene himself had faced a penalty earlier in the match but saw Nigerian playmaker John Obi Mikel fire against a post. His only upset was in being by the strike from Emmanuel Emenike which gave Nigeria the lead.
Mweene said: “It is hard enough for a goalkeeper to save a penalty, never mind score one, but I do practice them in training. It was a long walk from one end of the pitch to the other, but I just concentrated on scoring and that’s what I did.”
Mweene has now faced four penalties in the last four matches Zambia have played in the finals – the semi-final and final last year and the opening two games here, and none have been converted.
No goals were scored against Burkina Faso on Friday either as the west African outsiders took advantage of first-half injuries to Ethiopia’s Adane Girma and Asrat Megersa which fatally disrupted their rhythm after a bright start.
Two goalkeepers helped the Burkinabe keep a clean sheet – Soulama, who was sent off for a careless handball just outside his penalty area after 60 minutes, and substitute Daouda Diakite, who is likely to keep his place for the decider against Zambia as Soulama is suspended.
Burkina Faso, who had not won in the finals for 17 successive matches dating back to 1998 when they hosted the event, were lucky early on when Ethiopia’s Shimelese Bekele hit the post with Soulama stranded after just four minutes.
But there was nothing lucky about Burkina Faso’s opening goal, smashed in with a stunning left-foot rocket from Alain Traore which gave Zerihun Tadelle no chance.
Tadelle, only playing because goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was sent off against Zambia last Monday, was also helpless to stop Traore’s second left-foot effort after 74 minutes.
It was the start of a three-goal scoring burst over the next 21 minutes, including stoppage time, with Djakaridja Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa adding two more to complete the rout.
Burkina Faso top the group with four points from their two matches, followed by Zambia and Nigeria with two and Ethiopia with one. Next Tuesday Zambia face Burkina Faso in Nelspruit and Nigeria play Ethiopia in Rustenburg.
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