We sort of stopped paying attention to the Africa Cup of Nations over the past week as the transfer window and deadline day kicked into high gear — football mustn’t distract from the real reason we’re all here, transfer rumors weeeeeeee — but yesterday, young Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traoré and his Stallions of Burkina Faso took on former Chelsea hopeful Mohamed Salah and his Pharaohs of Egypt in the first semifinal.
Thanks in big part to Salah himself, Egypt were one of the pre-tournament favorites and they’ve lived up to their billing so far. Aristide Bancé’s goal in the 73rd minute was in fact the first goal they had conceded all tournament. Egypt had taken the lead not ten minutes prior with a fantastic Salah goal.
After a hard-fought 120 minutes, the match went into a penalty kick shootout and despite Egypt blinking first, they emerged victorious, 4-3, after Burkina Faso missed their final two kicks. Bertrand Traoré took their fifth and final and decisive kick but just like Diego Costa on Tuesday, he failed to convert.
Traoré’s tournament started with a disappointing performance and he was benched for the second game, but he returned from that setback newly motivated and looking much more dangerous and even set up the winning goal in the quarterfinals against Tunisia. While he will be returning to Ajax where he’s on loan for the season, he’s hoping that some of his performances have caught the eye of the one man who matters the most in this case, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte.
With Chelsea continuing to be heavily linked with strikers, perhaps Bertrand Traoré has a chance to impress ahead of next season.
Later today, Ghana will be taking on Cameroon to determine who will face Egypt in the final and who will face Traoré & Co in the third place match on Saturday.