African Cup of Nations: In loss, Burkina Faso celebrates pride

Updated: 11 February 2013 08:50 IST

Burkina Faso lost its first major final 1-0 to Nigeria but only after gallantly making it through to the decisive game at Soccer City and surprising much bigger teams on the way.

African Cup of Nations: In loss, Burkina Faso celebrates pride

Johannesburg:

Burkina Faso celebrated despite defeat in Sunday's final of the African Cup of Nations, with fans parading on the streets back home and coach Paul Put saying his underdog team had made the small West African country proud.

Burkina Faso lost its first major final 1-0 to Nigeria but only after gallantly making it through to the decisive game at Soccer City and surprising much bigger teams on the way.

"I saw a team that was fighting to the last minute and that is the value we have," Put said in Johannesburg. "So I am very happy and I think all Burkinabe can be proud."

At home, supporters came out in cars and on motorbikes to show their pride and joy, even after Nigeria's victory, and fireworks even lit up the sky in one part of the capital, Ouagadougou.

Fans also crowded the house of star player Jonathan Pitoipa's father to show their support after Pitroipa was chosen as the player of the tournament in South Africa to cap the Burkina Faso team's fairytale ride.

"We need to be united around the players because we have achieved our goals," Jean Baptiste Pitroipa, father of forward Jonathan, said.

Before this year, Burkina Faso had only made it out of the group stage at the African Cup once before, when it reached the semifinals on home soil in 1998.

This time, the team surged into the final after eliminating defending champion Zambia in their group and beating Emmanuel Adebayor's Togo and title contender Ghana in the knockouts.

"We did our best and if we got into the final it's because we deserved it," captain Charles Kabore said.

The players were to be greeted on their return home on Monday and were invited to a lunch with Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore on Tuesday, when the head of state was set to give them medals.

Supporters painted in the red, green and yellow of the country's flag were still happy after the final whistle and the narrow loss, with some blowing horns, while national celebrations were planned for Monday and the team's return.

"How many people can live these kind of happy moments during a month?" Oumar Ouedraogo of the national supporters association said.

Belgian coach Put said: "Congratulations to Nigeria and also to my players. I'm very proud. I can only say I'm very happy and proud of my players."

Topics : Football Nigeria England Spain
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