In Traore’s absence, however, the Stallions, as a collective, truly upped their game, and the likes of Aristide Bance and Djakaridja Kone appeared to be men on a mission, relentless in their pursuit of history.
It was one man above all others who stood out, and Jonathan Pitroipa became a symbol of the best and the worst of the Cup of Nations.
He stepped into Traore’s shoes to become the team’s creator-in-chief, pushing and prompting with his darting runs and oft-ingenious passing to forge openings for the Burkinabe.
Against Togo in the quarter final, it was his extra time header that sealed progression, while he was at his creative, inventive best in the rout against Ethiopia.
Against Ghana, however, Pitroipa became associated with the competition’s dark side, as his wrongful dismissal—for supposed simulation—was the finest illustration of the poor quality officiating too often on display during the tournament.
Fortunately the decision was over-turned, and Pitroipa proceeded to play in Burkina Faso’s first ever continental final, however he appeared keener to grace the final with his diving and his flailing, rather than his footballing ability.
Still, one of the tournament’s most impressive players, he has written his name into Burkinabe folklore.