• Now 36th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for March 2017 – the highest position in their history
  • Climbed to third at the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations
  • Qualified for the third round of the African qualifiers for Russia 2018

If one were to put together a list of the top teams in Africa, the names that sprang to mind would likely include Cameroon, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt and Algeria, who have all regularly made an impression at major tournaments. But is it perhaps time to add Burkina Faso to that roll of honour? 

Les Etalons (the Stallions) recently defeated Ghana in the Match for Third Place at the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, a result that was viewed as something of a surprise, given that they had been eliminated at the group stage of the continental contest back in 2015. 

But two years prior to that, at South Africa 2013, the Burkinabe almost went all the way, losing in the final to Nigeria. During that same period, they put in creditable performances during the qualifying campaigns for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup™ tournaments, at the culmination of which they were pipped to the post by Côte d’Ivoire and Algeria respectively. 

Paulo Duarte’s players have again made it through to the final round of African qualifiers for Russia 2018, and after two matches, they sit proudly at the top of Group D, ahead of South Africa, Senegal and Cape Verde. In addition, their good run of results has seen them reach their highest ever position in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking

We were a little bit disappointed to finish third in our [Cup of Nations] group. I think I can speak for the entire squad when I say that we’re going to give qualifying for the World Cup our best shot. 

Charles Kabore, Burkina Faso captain

36  In March 2017, Burkina Faso rose to 36th spot in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, two places higher than in the previous edition, courtesy of the 42 points they earned over the past month. The West Africans are reaping the rewards of their fine run at Gabon 2017, where they got the better of Guinea-Bissau (2-0), Tunisia (1-0) and Ghana (1-0), and drew with hosts Gabon (1-1) and eventual winners Cameroon (1-1). 

4  After finishing third at Gabon 2017 and advancing to the final round of African qualifiers for Russia 2018, Burkina Faso are now the fourth best African team in the March FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking; only Egypt, Senegal and Cameroon enjoy a higher placing. 

Keys to success
The coach: Duarte, who previously coached the Stallions between 2007 and 2012, took up the reins again in 2016. Interestingly, the players to whom he first gave a chance now form the core of the team. “Now we’ve got the talent,” said the Portuguese coach. “The squad’s key players are approaching their 30s; they’re at the peak of their careers. It’s because of them that we’re playing a lot better, and their presence helps younger players to integrate.” 

The experienced heads: Among those important players, Charles Kabore, Jonathan Pitroipa, Bakary Kone, Prejuce Nakoulma and Aristide Bance are accustomed to performing at a high level in major European leagues, and are ready to make an additional step up.

“I get a lot of pleasure out of being part of the national set-up – it’s been almost 11 years for me now, and this past Cup of Nations was definitely our best, in my opinion,” said the 29-year-old Kabore, who captains the fast-improving side. “We would have loved to lift the trophy. We were a little bit disappointed to finish third in our group. I think I can speak for the entire squad when I say that we’re going to give qualifying for the World Cup our best shot.” 

Upcoming fixtures
- Chile-Burkina Faso, 3 June, friendly
- Burkina Faso-Angola, 13 June, 2019 Cup of Nations qualifier
- Burkina Faso-Ghana, 11 August, 2018 African Nations Championship qualifier
- Ghana-Burkina Faso, 18 August, 2018 African Nations Championship qualifier
- Senegal-Burkina Faso, 28 August, 2018 World Cup qualifier
- Burkina Faso-Senegal, 2 September, 2018 World Cup qualifier