AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS: SUDAN MAKE HISTORY TO QUALIFY
By Durosimi Thomas
Mudather El Taib was the hero for Sudan, scoring goals in each half
Sudan won their first match at the Africa Cup of Nations for 42 years, beating Burkina Faso 2-1 in Bata to reach the quarter-finals.
They made it to the last eight thanks to Ivory Coast's 2-0 win over Angola in the other Group B match in Malabo.
Mudather El Taib scored in each half for the 1970 African champions, with Issiaka Ouedraogo replying late on.
The Sudanese will play Zambia in the quarter-finals on 4 February, before Ivory Coast take on Equatorial Guinea.
We deserve to be in the quarters. We've got one of the youngest teams in the tournament, with an average age of 24. My side is making progress – after a defeat, a draw and now a win. This was one of our best matches.
Mohamed 'Mazda' Abdallah
Playing in a deserted Estadio de Bata, El Taib proved to be Sudan's hero as he netted both his side's goals in almost identical fashion.
After 33 minutes, he latched on to a ball from midfield, evaded Hamadou Tall's tackle and slotted home from 15 yards with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The goal came against the run of play however as Sudan's scrappy approach was outclassed by Burkina Faso, who dominated possession in the opening period.
The Sudanese had suffered an anxious moment just minutes into the match after defender Nagm Eldin was taken off on a stretcher following a collision in his own penalty area.
Experienced coach Mohamed 'Mazda' Abdallah was forced to make a change for a match his side had to win, bringing on Omer Maaz Musaab.
But the East Africans will be grateful that the Burkinabe could not take their chances, as Moumouni Dagano headed wide while substitute Ouedraogo blasted a clear opportunity over the bar.
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If I stay on [as coach], we'll make it to the World Cup – we've got the
Burkina Faso coach
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte introduced Bertrand Traore to make the 16-year-old the third youngest player to ever contest a Nations Cup match.
With 10 minutes remaining, Stallions goalkeeper Daouda Diakite misjudged his timing to intercept a long diagonal ball – allowing El Taib to round him with ease and slide home into an empty net.
The goal cemented Sudan's quarter-final place, which had only been made possible by Ivory Coast leading Angola by two goals as well.
But the Burkinabe created a late scare as Ouedraogo finally beat Sudan goalkeeper Akram with a header in the 95th minute.
Nonetheless, Sudan held on for their first victory at the Nations Cup since beating Ghana 1-0 in the final in 1970.
After a 32-year absence from the finals, Sudan returned in 2008 only to lose all their games by a 3-0 margin.
But they have proved a different proposition this year after recovering from an opening 1-0 defeat by Ivory Coast to earn their first point since 1976 on Thursday when drawing with Angola.
Sudan, one of the founding members of the Confederation of African Football, will play the Chipolopolo in Bata on Saturday 4 February.