Burkina Faso held their nerve on Friday, netting a last-minute equaliser in a 1–1 draw with WAFU Women’s Cup hosts Ivory Coast to set up a thrilling final round in Group A.
The draw leaves Ghana’s hopes of advancing to the knockouts hanging by a thread despite their emphatic win in Friday’s opening clash.
Ghana sent Niger packing with a 9–0 hammering to clinch their first victory after falling to Ivory Coast in their tournament opener.
Stand-in skipper Portia Boakye and Janet Egyir scored on either side of the breather to bag a brace alongside substitute Jane Ayieyam who netted twice after the break.
Grace Asantewaa, Priscilla Okyere and Ruth Appiah were also on target for the rampant Black Queens.
The match of the day followed at PARC des Sports Stadium between Ivory Coast and (JWsports1’s dark horse of the tournament) Burkina Faso, both looking to extend their winning start.
Burkina Faso were quick off the blocks with Salimata Simporé serving a sumptuous through ball to Juliette Nana in front of goal.
But Nana released a feeble shot, which keeper Cinthia Djohore easily collected before sending a long ball up front.
A speedy counter between Ines Nrhey and Essoh Nadege on the other end followed but Kpaho Zoté Nina struck the duo’s supply wide.
Intent established by both sides, a fiery encounter ensued and half-time found both sides tied at zip-zip.
This soon changed when the hosts mounted a dazzling build up five minutes into the second stanza, delivering the ball to Kpaho on the left flank.
Kpaho, Player of the Match in the win against Ghana, peeled away from her markers before centering the ball for Lynda Gauze to sink home the opener.
The hosts took control of the match from here henceforth, forcing the visitors into their own half.
But after being on the back foot minutes on end, Burkina Faso struck with two minutes left on the clock.
A splendid interplay between the menacing Simporé and substitute Yasmine Traoré resulted in a hand ball inside the hosts’ penalty box.
Simporé slammed home the resultant penalty to score her fourth of the tournament after her hat-trick against Niger on Wednesday.
With that, Niger, returning to the international stage after a decade, become the first nation knocked out of the inagural WAFU Womens’ Cup.
Ghana remain third on three points ahead of a must-win final group match against a tenacious Burkina Faso.
The Burkinabés’, tied on four points with Ivory Coast, just need a point against the Black Queens to advance.
The Ivorians on the other hand can start counting their chickens as an unlosable tie against Niger is what stands between them and the semi-final.
The action continues on Saturday 17 February with the second round of Group B matches on the cards.
African champions Nigeria will take on the other dark horse of the tournament Senegal in the match of the day.
Current Group A Standings
1) Burkina Faso (4 pts + 4)
2) Ivory Coast (4 pts +1)
3) Ghana (3 pts +8)
4) Niger (0 pt-13)