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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January, 2004, 14:54 GMT
Burkina Faso fancy their chances
Nickname: The Stallions
Coach: Jean-Paul Rabier
Captain: Mahamoudou Kere
Cup record: Qualified six times

If you want to put some hard-earned money on a long shot, see what odds you can get on Burkina Faso taking down West African rivals Senegal and Mali.

The Stallions, who on their day can surprise the mighty, continue to strengthen their profile and have qualified now for their fifth successive Nations Cup finals.

The 1998 Nations Cup hosts are awkward customers who love working hard without being spectacular, propelled by the influence and goals of Belgium-based striker Moumouni Dagano.

With West African bragging rights at stake in their group, defeats to Senegal and Mali are almost certain to trigger bouts of depression in Burkina Faso.


Did you know? Burkina Faso reached the final of the 1999 African Youth Championship, just two years after the launch of their youth academy.


Coach

Despite his frank admission that he knows little about football in Burkina Faso, Jean-Paul Rabier leads the Stallions in their fifth successive African Cup of Nations finals.

He was appointed coach in late 2002, replacing the Burkinabe coaching duo of Jacques Yameogo and Pihouri Weboanga who were fired after the 2002 finals in Mali.

Rabier faces a difficult task trying to emulate fellow Frenchman Phillipe Troussier, who took the Stallions to the semi-finals of the tournament when they hosted it in 1998.

Key players

Lamine Traore is a physically imposing centre-half who is a vital member of the Stallions' defence.

Blessed with great pace and an ability to read the game, he has many of the components needed to become a quality international defender.

Traore moved to his current Belgian club Anderlecht at the age of 17, but has found it difficult to command a regular first team place. That should make the 21-year-old all the more keen to prove himself in Tunisia.

Dieudonne Minoungou is far from a household name, yet the tall and stylish striker proved himself to be a real handful in the qualifiers.

He played alongside Moumouni Dagano in the Stallions' attack and was on the scoresheet on a regular basis.

Moumouni Dagano is the mainstay of the Stallions
Dagano hopes to be among the goals in Tunisia
With both Mamadou Zongo and Wilfred Sanou ruled out by injuries, the pressure on Moumouni Dagano to shine could not be higher.

The giant striker scored just one goal as Burkina Faso crashed out in the first round in Mali 2002, but caught the eye with his threatening displays.

Having been an unused substitute in the 2000 edition, it would seem a natural progression if the 23-year-old made a real impact in his third finals.


Verdict

As ever, the Burkinabe squad offers a mixture of Europe-based professionals and home-based players who look strong enough to give a good account of themselves.

However, genuine match-winners are thin on the ground and the Stallions will have to rely on a strong team spirit and work ethic to get them through.





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