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Back Senegal to win to nil in the Caesars sportsbook. Burkina Faso have had an excellent tournament but this is likely to be a step too far.
We do not recommend betting the moneyline on this occasion because the available odds are not particularly attractive.
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Senegal were the runners-up at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, when they suffered a 1-0 defeat by Algeria in the final.
The year before that, they were narrowly eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup in Russia.
Yet the Senegalese Football Federation did not make any knee-jerk decisions in response to either of those disappointments.
They kept faith with Aliou Cisse, who has now been in charge of the national team since 2015. Their patience could be rewarded in Cameroon.
Twenty-four teams qualified for this Cup of Nations. Fourteen sides had African managers, compared to 10 who had Europeans in charge. In 2019, the equivalent figure was 11 Africans and 13 Europeans.
It would be a step too far to describe the shift towards African coaches as a result of Cisse’s success, but the job he has done with Senegal – as well as, for instance, Djamel Belmadi’s fine work as Algeria boss – has proved that European managers do not always know better.
Cisse is nevertheless under a fair amount of pressure as we enter the business end of this year’s competition.
The former midfielder was a key part of Senegal’s so-called golden generation that finished as runners-up at the 2002 Cup of Nations and reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup later that year.
Some argue that the current squad is even better than the Class of 2002. Senegal are long overdue a piece of silverware, having never won the Cup of Nations.
They might never get a better chance than this. Although Egypt or Cameroon await in the final, Senegal have had a relatively kind run to the last four with knockout victories over Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea.
Ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final, Senegalese soccer supporters are daring to dream.
Burkina Faso is a modest country of 21 million people.
Its national team has never qualified for the World Cup, but in recent years the Stallions have become known as one of the continent’s biggest overachievers at the Africa Cup of Nations.
They were the runners-up in 2013, narrowly losing 1-0 to Nigeria in the final, and then reached the semi-finals four years later. They have repeated that feat this time around, shrugging off political turmoil back home to do the nation proud.
Burkina Faso did not exactly set the group stage alight.
They gave Cameroon a stiff test in the opening match of the tournament but ultimately succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.
A 1-0 victory over Cape Verde followed, before Burkina Faso secured a second-place finish in Group A by drawing 1-1 with Ethiopia, one of only eight teams who failed to reach the knockout phase. Kamou Malo’s side (another native coach) then beat Gabon on penalties, before an excellent 1-0 triumph over Tunisia in the last eight.
Burkina Faso delivered an accomplished performance in that quarter-final.
Tunisia had caught the eye in their defeat of Nigeria in the round of 16, but Burkina Faso successfully kept them at arm’s length. The only negative was the red card shown to Dango Ouattara, who was the match-winner against the Eagles of Carthage.
Any team that reaches the semi-finals of a major competition like this one must have something about them, and Burkina Faso have enough quality to beat any other African nation on their day.
Yet at the same time, it is not controversial to say they are the weakest team left in the competition.
The Stallions have only won two games within 90 minutes in Cameroon and do not have the strength in depth of Senegal, Egypt or Cameroon.
As for Senegal, their pre-tournament status as the second-favorites to triumph looked accurate. Their own depth was on display in the quarter-finals, when Cheikhou Kouyate and Ismaila Sarr came off the bench to score the second and third goals against Equatorial Guinea.
Two Premier League stars like Kouyate and Sarr would start for the vast majority of teams at this Cup of Nations. But Senegal have an abundance of options and could afford to leave them on the bench.
Burkina Faso have scored in every game so far, but they have only found the net once in each of them.
Senegal are the strongest side they have faced since that opening match against Cameroon, and we should see Cisse’s side keep Burkina Faso’s attack quiet. Back a win to nil for Senegal.
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|Burkina Faso vs Senegal Information|
|Teams||Burkina Faso vs Senegal|
|Location||Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, Cameroon|
|Time||Wednesday, 2 February 2022, 14.00 PM EST|
|How to watch||beIN SPORTS|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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