Kamou Malo, the head coach of Burkina Faso believes that success at the Africa Cup of Nations can help the embattled population smile again amidst a Coup d’Etat and political instability back home.
The nation’s domestic crisis has intensified since Jan. 23 when military forces overthrew the government over their discontent with the authorities’ inability to deal with an increasing Islamist insurgency and armed terrorist attacks in the country.
The Burkina Faso national team will face Senegal in Wednesday’s first semifinal at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde. Ahead of the game, Malo believes that events back in his homeland can serve as additional motivation for the Nations Cup outsiders.
“For several years we’ve had to face terrorism which hasn’t stopped plunging our people into mourning,” he told journalists on Tuesday. “Our objective now is to bring back a smile to our population.
“If we can, through our sporting endeavours, give hope, we won’t compromise any effort. What’s been going on back home represents an additional motivation for us.”
Burkina Faso defeated Gabon on penalties in the round of 16 only hours after gunfire was heard at the presidential residence and other sites in the capital Ouagadougou, before dispatching Tunisia 1-0 in the quarterfinals to progress.
President Roch Kabore was detained and subsequently deposed from his position, with the military seizing power in the country.
“We’ve dedicated our qualification thus far to our people who are living through such political and social events,” former police officer Malo added. “We know that our achievements will be remembered by our people, and we’re keen to give them the trophy.”
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse also spoke of the danger the Burkina Faso side pose ahead of the clash.
“In terms of motivation, we’re aware of what’s happening in Burkina Faso,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse told ESPN. “But they can’t be more motivated than us — we are as motivated as them and as determined as them.
“The pressure on Kamou is different to the pressure on me, it’s linked to the instability in his country, and of course this could push them to advance.
“However, the reality is that, on the pitch, two big, strong teams will meet, both have worked hard, both have experienced difficulties, and both Burkina Faso and Senegal have overcome them to prove their mental strength.”