Alain Traore fired in an 89th-minute free kick to give Burkina Faso a 1-0 win over Ghana in the third-place match at the African Cup of Nations on Saturday, the game that no one wants to play.
Traore’s powerful shot into the top left corner settled it at Stade de Port-Gentil, handing departing Ghana coach Avram Grant a defeat in his final game in charge. The former Chelsea manager’s contract is up with Ghana and he’ll leave after losing in the final of the 2015 African Cup and in the semifinals this year.
Saturday’s victory lifted the mood of the Burkina Faso team, which lost in a penalty shootout to Egypt in the semifinals in Gabon.
While Burkina Faso started with something near a full-strength team, Grant gave many of his second-string youngsters a chance to play. They were better than Burkina Faso for most of the game, but still finished the African Cup with a loss.
Thomas Partey hit the crossbar for Ghana in the first half and defender Daniel Amartey missed with a header when unmarked and in front of goal in injury time at the end. A draw would have taken the game straight to a penalty shootout, with no extra time in the bronze medal match.
For Ghana, it was another major disappointment at the African Cup, with its loss to Cameroon in the semifinals ensuring that a painful and long quest for a fifth title will have to wait at least another two years.
Ghana hasn’t won since 1982 and it’ll be 37 years and counting when the next African championship is played in Cameroon in 2019. This was the first time that Burkina Faso finished third. It was fourth at home in 1998 and lost in the final in South Africa in 2013.
Egypt, seeking a record-extending eighth African title, will play Cameroon in Sunday’s final in the Gabonese capital Libreville.