BURKINA Faso hobbled into the Africa Cup of Nations final with a 3-2 penalty shootout win after an intense battle against Ghana at Nelspruit's Mbombela Stadium last night.
The Stallions held their nerve in the penalty shootout to emerge victorious, missing only one penalty after the match ended with a 1-all draw, following a fierce battle.
Ageymang Badu missed the decisive spot-kick for Ghana, sending the crowd and the Stallions bench into raptures. The Burkinabe will come up against Nigeria in the final on Sunday after playing in arguably the best match of the tournament. The encounter could only be decided by penalties after both sides shed blood, sweat and tears for the right to contest the final.
Mubarak Wakaso put Ghana ahead as early as the 12th minute when he converted a penalty, while Aristide Bance equalised for the Stallions on the hour mark.
The Burkinabe got off to a rollicking start in the second half, Jonathan Pitroipa again leading the attack as he pushed his wiry frame behind the ball in search of the equaliser.
Bance's powerful header in the 50th minute appeared to have crossed the line, but replays showed that Ghana goalkeeper Abdul-Fatawu Dauda had it covered.
Asamoah Gyan was denied by the upright as he got to the end of the crisp pass from Christian Atsu in the 58th minute. Bance made no mistake as he equalised at the other end almost immediately.
Released by Prejuce Nakoulma, Bance edged closer to the box before slipping in a low shot past 'keeper Dauda to the far left, as the crowd rose to its feet.
The Stallions have enjoyed a lot of support in this neck of the woods, having spent almost three weeks in the Mpumalanga capital.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah made only one change to the team which defeated Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, bringing in two-goal hero Mubarak Wakaso for Albert Adomah.
His counterpart Didier Six started with striker Bance, midfielders Florent Rouamba and Nakoulma, dropping skipper Moumouni Dagano and Issouf Ouattara and Wilfried Sanou to the bench.
The tempo of the match, arguably the first fast-paced game in this tournament, somewhat vindicated Six's brace decision, as the Stallions matched Ghana's quick passing game with some fluidity and creativity of their own.
Ghana suffered an early blow when seasoned defender John Paintsil was stretchered off with a hamstring injury in the 10th minute, with Solomon Asante sent in to plug the gap in defence.
It wasn't long before the Burkinabe came out of their shells, invading the Ghana territory with carefree attitude.
They should have been awarded a penalty when John Boye shoved Pitroipa inside the box, but referee Jdidi Slim waved play on.
The Tunisian official rubbed salt into the wound when he awarded Ghana the spot-kick for what looked anything but an innocuous challenge on Atsu by Saidou Panandetiguiri.