Korhogo has his mind elsewhere. Tuesday January 30, between the countless motorcycle taxis and along the endlessly intertwined stalls, we continue to dance or blow plastic trumpets. In this large city in the north of Ivory Coast, supporters are still intoxicated by the miraculous victory of the Elephants against Senegal, won the day before in the round of 16 of the African Cup of Nations (CAN). “God is Ivorian, that’s for sure,” proclaims a young woman with a blissful smile.

Patriotic but commercial, sellers of jerseys in the colors of the national team took the opportunity to try to slightly inflate prices. But, on this day, not everyone wants to pay for a piece of orange fabric, others are mainly looking to treat themselves to the most beautiful replica of a tunic with the image of an eagle or prancing horses. Another eighth, just as crucial, is played at the end of the day at the Amadou-Gon-Coulibaly stadium. A northern derby at the end of which Mali defeated Burkina Faso (2-1) in a frustrating match for the Stallions.

Mali-Burkina Faso. The meeting is an African classic of the sub-region, a duel between neighbors with “a fierce rivalry”, recalls Cheick Oumar Konte, Malian journalist at Radio Emergence. “There is always an electric pre-match: we tease each other on social networks and between journalists, but in a good mood,” underlined the reporter.

“They have a habit of winning over us.”

In this CAN of all surprises, it was necessary that this eighth between two brother countries be played at Korhogo, a crossroads to head towards the north of the continent. The third city of Ivory Coast concentrates a significant Malian and Burkinabé diaspora, being located not far from the borders of the two countries. Some supporters traveled from Bamako or Ouagadougou. “Everyone thinks they are playing at home,” insists Cheick Oumar Konte. Nobody is disoriented. »

Sportingly, advantage for the Eagles of Mali. “They are used to winning over us,” points out Haïbata Kabre, 40 years old who has followed the Stallions since the start of the tournament. This French teacher, who came from Ouagadougou with friends, wants her team to “break the spell”. “It’s our turn!” “, she proclaims. The Burkinabés remember that on January 30, 2004, twenty years ago to the day, Mali beat the Stallions 3-1 in the CAN group stage.

17 hours. The 20,000-seat stadium is far from full. By the applause meter, the Burkinabés seem more numerous. Let’s go. The Stallions take the initiative, but from the 3rd minute the Malian Amadou Haidara finds the post, follows the action and pushes Edmond Tapsoba to score against his side (1-0). The duel is on, he promises.

Hubert Velud’s men no longer have a choice, they must go for the equalizer. The Eagles, for their part, made a series of small mistakes which broke the rhythm of the match. The Stallions don’t panic and try to build; the opponent delays and waits for counterattacks. The Eagles are playing their game and are becoming more and more dangerous. In the last quarter of an hour of the first half, Burkinabe goalkeeper Hervé Koffi made numerous saves, sometimes miraculous, keeping his team alive. Until when ?

Brother countries

As soon as the second half resumed, Lassine Sinayoko flew to the edge of offside and his shot further shattered the dream of the Burkinabé supporters (2-0). Led, Burkina Faso must wake up and run faster behind the score. Until then a little snore, the match finally gets carried away: on a cross from Issa Kaboré, a Malian touches the leather with his hand. After video assistance, the Libyan referee Mutaz Ibrahim whistles an unexpected penalty (57th). Bertrand Traoré does not miss the opportunity (2-1). The duel is restarted and comes alive. The public, more numerous, comes back to life.

Mali maintains its pressure and continues to create opportunities. The Stallions are more eye-catching, and the last minutes of the match are indecisive. The Burkinabe public is demanding a goal that will not come (the equalizer is refused for an offside position in the 89th minute). Mali, strong, in place, concentrated, wins. “It’s a great disillusionment,” sighs Hubert Velud. In the first half, we were unrecognizable. We played half a match. »

This Mali-Burkina Faso was not only a sporting duel, it was also a political poster. The two countries, led by soldiers and united – with Niger – within the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) have experienced similar trajectories: jihadist violence, coups d’état, break with France and rapprochement with the Russia. “This political context gave this match a more friendly character, the rivalry was more calmed,” assures Jérôme Tiendrebeogo, journalist at RTB, the Burkinabe public channel, who only regrets that the two selections met so early in the match. competition. For him as for other supporters, it does not matter if Mali won this eighth, the main thing is that an Alliance country continues the CAN.

The Eagles will meet Ivory Coast on February 3 in Bouaké, in a quarter-final which promises to be intense, and not only because of the weak ties between the host country and Mali. This match will take place at the Stade de la Paix.