Burkina Faso and Gabon will set the pace in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations when they tussle it out at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Sunday.
Burkina Faso secured their place in the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations last Monday after a 1-1 draw against Ethiopia.
Prior to that, Kamou Malo’s men were welcomed to the tournament with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of host nation Cameroon on opening day, before grinding out a 1-0 win over Cape Verde on January 13.
With four points from three games, the West African nation finished as runners-up in Group A, level on points with Cape Verde who also secured entry into the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed sides.
Burkina Faso head into Sunday’s game unbeaten in all but one of their last nine games across all competitions, picking up four wins and four draws, scoring 15 goals and keeping four clean sheets in that time.
Gabon, on the other hand, will be delighted with their campaign performance as they enjoyed an unbeaten run in the group stages to clinch smooth passage into the last 16.
The Panthers opened their campaign with an impressive 1-0 victory over debutants Comoros on January 10 before holding Ghana to a 1-1 draw in their second group game four days later.
Patrice Neveu’s side turned in an eye-catching performance in their final group outing as they held a rampant Morocco side to a 2-2 draw.
With five points from three games, Gabon finished runners-up to Morocco in Group C and two points ahead of Comoros, who picked up their first-ever win in the tournament when they stunned Ghana to a 3-2 victory in a classic group finale.
Like Burkina Faso, Gabon have avoided defeat in all but one of their most recent seven games in all competitions, claiming three wins and four draws in that time.
This will be their first competitive encounter in about five years as they last met in 2017 when the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw.
Gabon have however dominated this fixture over the years. Including the international friendlies, they have met nine times but the Panthers have won four times compared to the Burkinabes’ two whereas, three have ended in stalemates.
The winner between the two sides will take on either of Nigeria or Tunisia who square up on Sunday as well.