Burkina Faso have a big problem in goal. First choice custodian Daouda Diakite is out injured long term which means Koffi Kouakou, just 20 years old with 3 caps will be starting. The only other option is Germain Sanou who plays for French third division side Beauvais which pretty much says everything about the sort of level he’s at. They do at least have a centre back pairing which might be decent. That’s presuming Bakary Kone actually plays to an acceptable level. The ex Lyon man has endured an awful season at Malaga and his fitness levels are questionable. However, for a tournament like this perhaps he can rebound. Steeve Yago alongside him is a powerful beast and playing quite well for Toulouse at the moment. The rest of the Burkina defence looks pretty poor and lacks experience so they could be in big trouble if Yago & Kone don’t play well.
Key man in midfield for The Stallions is captain Charles Kabore. He is the most capped player in the squad and a dynamic midfielder. He'll be at the heart of everything and his ball winning skills aren't to be underestimated. I’m not exactly sure what formation they’ll be using but they don’t have a natural partner for him in the middle of sufficient class. However, Burkina Faso do have some dangerous attackers in their squad who can be lethal in the right mood. The likes of Jonathan Pitroipa, Bertrand Traore & Alain Traore all might produce strong moments, albeit can also be extremely inconsistent. Big unit upfront Aristide Bance can be a handful at times along with Prejuce Nakoulma on the right wing. The problem is not all of these players have been in great form this season and the physical status of some is questionable. There’s potential here but also a strong feeling of unpredictability.
Draw & outlook
Paulo Duarte is an experienced African coach and this is his second stint at the helm of Burkina Faso. One thing the Stallions will have in their favour is great team spirit and togetherness. A lot of these players are firm friends and know each other extremely well. That type of chemistry can't be underestimated in a competition like this. They finished as runners up in 2013 when extremely unfancied, although it would take a big effort for them to repeat that sort of feat here. They are in a tough group with host nation Gabon and also Cameroon. They would hope to beat Guinea Bissau but even that is no certainty. Progression to the quarter finals would be classed as a success, but even if they managed to achieve that then I don’t see how they could go much further. With a squad containing a number of players who have questionable fitness levels the long term outlook doesn’t look great.
Group prediction: 3rd