Saturday Jan 22, 2022. 10:00
The Africa Cup of Nations’ knockout phase will be opened by a Round of 16 clash between Burkina Faso and Gabon at the Limbe Stadium on the evening of Sunday 23 January 2022, kick-off at 18:00 CAT.
Burkina Faso earned their place in the knockouts with a runners-up finish in Group A, after a 2-1 loss to hosts Cameroon, a 1-0 win over Cape Verde and 1-1 draw with Ethiopia.
Despite their mixed results, the Stallions come into this clash full of optimism that their tournament has only just begun.
“We are happy to be qualified [for the Round of 16],” said Burkinabe coach Kamou Malo. “It’s a competition, and we will move forward little by little. We will work, because we know that our team is not at the top. We will correct our shortcomings and that’s how this team will grow.”
He added, “I know how far my team can get… we are in the knockout stages, let’s wait and see what happens.”
Gabon, meanwhile, impressed by going unbeaten in Group C, defeating Comoros before holding heavyweights Ghana and Morocco to draws. This booked the Panthers a runners-up spot and sees them looking to equal their best AFCON performance (reaching the Quarterfinals in 2012 and 2017).
“My team had the match they needed,” said Gabon coach Patrice Neveu after their 2-2 draw with Morocco. “The players followed the guidelines well. We thought we would win the match but this draw is still good, which allows us to continue the adventure. We would have liked to take the three points but it is football. In the Round of 16 against Burkina Faso, it will be a difficult game against a team that plays well.”
In head-to-head stats, Burkina Faso and Gabon have met in 19 matches across all competitions, dating back as far as 1988. The Panthers have claimed eight wins compared to four for the Stallions, while seven games have been drawn.
The teams last met in an international friendly in Paris in October 2019, with Gabon winning 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.