THERE was shock and excitement in almost equal measure when Burkina Faso advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations soccer quarterfinals at the expense of defending champions Zambia in Nelspruit last night.
A 1-1 draw was all the Burkinabe needed in their last group match against Chipolopolo to book their place in the playoff stages after Nigeria defeated Ethiopia 2-0 in the other group C match in Rustenburg.
The Zambians never really got into their stride in this tournament, becoming the first defending champions to fail to advance to the quarterfinals in 23 years.
Shock and pain is probably still being felt in Lusaka, but the truth is, Renard Herve and his troops saw it coming.
Failure to win games result in elimination and Chilopolopolo learnt that the hard way yesterday. Whereas Burkina Faso kept proving to be the tournament's revelation, Zambia just could not get going.
Their opening draw against Ethiopia did not inspire confidence and nothing much could be read from their 1-1 result against Nigeria.
A combination of hard work, resilience and sheer determination has seen the Stallions through and a lot can still be expected from the Burkinabes in this tournament.
Burkina now play either Togo or Tunisia in the quarterfinals on Sunday, ensuring at least one outsider in next week's semifinals.
"We believed we could go further in this. It's a night of history for Burkina Faso," said coach Paul Putt.
It is the first time since 1998, and only the second time ever, they have reached the last eight.