Senegal will chase a date with destiny when they face Burkina Faso in the first semifinal of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations, set for the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde on the evening of Wednesday 2 February 2022. Kick-off is at 9pm CAT.

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Senegal started the Afcon slowly but steadily – topping their group ahead of Guinea, Malawi and Zimbabwe despite scoring just one goal – but they have gradually built momentum, putting away Cape Verde 2-0 in the round of 16 before producing their most fluent performance to date in the quarterfinals.

The Teranga Lions eased past Equatorial Guinea 3-1 on Sunday night, with goals from Famara Diedhiou, Cheikhou Kouyate and the returning Ismaila Sarr, and it could be said that they are peaking at exactly the right time.

“We played a hard-fought game against a good Equatorial Guinean team. We had the mentality to score three goals. We must congratulate the opposing team who were technically capable of creating problems for us,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who has been pleased with his team’s progress through the tournament.

“We must remember a good victory [against Equatorial Guinea], synonymous with qualifying for the semifinals. We have had a very difficult start to our preparations, but we worked well afterwards and today we are gaining momentum. We must not get carried away because [the match] against Burkina Faso, it will be a big battle.”

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, have kept up their trend of strong Afcon performances in the past decade: The Stallions have reached the semis in three of their last four tournament appearances (2013, 2017 and this Nations Cup, with the exception being 2015 [and 2019 when they did not qualify]).

They were second in Group A behind Cameroon before seeing off Gabon (on penalties) and Tunisia (1-0, with a goal from Dango Ouattara) in the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively.

Coach Kamou Malo believes his side has already done the country proud, bringing some sense of joy to a nation which has gone through a tumultuous political upheaval after a military coup in recent days.

“I would like to take this opportunity to pay homage to the people who despite everything stay strong,” Malo said after their win over Tunisia.

“I would like to believe our team is the mirror image of those people… we will stay strong in spite of everything. We’re going to try to keep making our people happy. We’re in the semifinal and it is a huge bonus… we’ve given a good account of ourselves and I believe we have the means to go further.”

In head-to-head stats, Burkina Faso and Senegal have met in 12 matches across all competitions, dating back as far as 1987. The Teranga Lions have claimed three wins compared to two for the Stallions, while seven games have been drawn.

The teams’ most recent meetings were in September 2017, as part of World Cup qualification for the following year’s tournament in Russia, with a 0-0 and 2-2 draw in Dakar and Ouagadougou respectively

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