Sudan dreaming of knockout spot
The ending of Sudan's 36-year Africa Cup of Nations goal drought against Angola has left the Jediane Falcons still in with a shout of squeaking through to the quarter-finals. Sudan confront already knocked out Burkina Faso lying in third place in Group B on one point, with Angola on three and qualified Côte d'Ivoire on six points.
To grab the precious runner up spot the Sudanese must not only beat Burkina Faso but also pray that their rivals for second place Angola take nothing from their encounter in Malabo with Côte d'Ivoire. That will put both sides on four points with goal difference coming into the equation to determine who goes forward to a last eight clash with either Equatorial Guinea or Zambia.
On Thursday, Sudan ended their three and a half decade scoring drought in the 2-2 draw with the Angolans, with Mohamed Bashir twice levelling after Manucho had scored for the Black Antelopes at the start of each half. That stalemate will have given them a dose of confidence after their spirited opening 1-0 loss to Côte d'Ivoire, Didier Drogba getting the decisive goal.
That narrow defeat was some feat for the only completely locally-sourced squad in the competition up against the footballing highrollers. Sudan coach Mohamed Abdalla, who was 16 when Sudan lifted the title in Khartoum in 1970, commented after that game: "We started by attacking because to continue in this competition we had to win.
"We let in the first goal on a major defensive blunder, the second on a penalty but my players aren't sufficently experienced. I'm happy that twice we were able to equalise. This game gives us huge motivation for our next one."
He added: "I'm trying to minimize the small mistakes of our inexperienced defenders playing against high-quality strikers. I think we are improving. To survive in this competition you have to win."
History is against Sudan, whose last win in the competition was way back in 1970 in the final against Ghana. The second lowest ranked team in the 2012 competition were knocked out in the first round in 1972 and 1976 and again in their next appearance in 2008.
For Burkina Faso, honour is the only thing at stake after an error-strewn opening 2-1 loss to Angola and a 2-0 defeat to Côte d'Ivoire. This is their fifth first round exit since they finished fourth 14 years ago. They go into Monday's match with uncertainty surrounding the future of their coach Paulo Duarte, who has threatened to quit if the national football federation does not change its ways.
He is upset over the way the federation has handled a number of nationality claims, with Cameroon-born Herve Zengue missing the finals and Abdou Razak Traore who is here in Equatorial Guinea unable to play. Duarte told the BBC: "I don't know if I will stay. I have other teams and Burkina Faso who want me to stay - but I don't know. I'll go home and think about my future - I'm tired of the same problems every day."