Top players to watch in 2015 AFCON: Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)

Jonathan Pitroipa
Burkina Faso's Jonathan Pitroipa (Photo: Reuters)
Ahram Online
Wednesday 14 Jan 2015
Burkina Faso's unlikely passage to the 2013 African Cup of Nations final was mainly down to the exploits of Jonathan Pitroipa, a talented winger who will be hoping to help his side leave their mark again at this year's AFCON.

Pitroipa, who plays for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, is one of Africa's most consistent performers, with his catchy and bold feints as well as a proven goal-scoring ability huge assets for Burkina Faso.

He was the top scorer of the Nations Cup qualifying campaign, netting six goals in as many Group C matches to help his side reach the tournament as the group runners-up with 11 points.

The 28-year-old was also instrumental in their remarkable Nations Cup run two years ago, despite scoring only two goals.

One of the goals he scored was crucial, with his extra-time winner in the quarter-final helping Burkina Faso book a last-four berth with a 1-0 victory over Togo. He feared he would miss the final after being sent off in the semis against Ghana but the red card was later overturned.

Although Burkina Faso lost to Nigeria in the final, there was still consolation for Pitroipa after he was named by CAF as the tournament's best player.

"We were very close, we gave a dream to our people back home, we made them proud of us and we deserved to come second," he told Sky Sports at the time.

"Now our football will be taken seriously. I hope it is a start and we can go forward not backward."

Pitroipa hardly lived up to his potential in Europe, having played for Freiburg and Hamburg in Germany and Rennes in France before making a sudden move to Al Jazira last summer.

"It is a new experience and a new life for me, playing for the first time in the region. I am very thankful for Jazira for providing me with this opportunity and a good deal," he said after penning a three-year deal with the club.

"There are a lot of good players in the Arabian Gulf League and football is continuing to develop in the country."

He will be one of Burkina Faso's key players when they face hosts Equatorial Guinea, Congo and Gabon in Group A of the Nations Cup. 

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