B. Faso coach Put plays down Traores absence

02 February 2013 05:17

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put has sought to downplay the damage done by star player Alain Traore's absence from Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final with Togo.

Traore's three goals lifted Burkina Faso into the last eight, but the Lorient midfielder cruelly misses the rest of the competition with a left thigh injury sustained in the closing 1-1 Group C draw with eliminated champions Zambia.

Put reflected here Saturday: "He's (Traore) a very important player but the other 22 are also very important.

"We can not play with Alain so we have to take someone else who can stand up and show his quality as well.

"We know on free kicks and corner kicks and things like that his quality, but I think we have enough quality to replace Alain."

The coach, speaking as a proud Belgian, said he was thrilled to help put his country on the footballing map.

"I am happy, I am proud because I am Belgian, but we have to thank the whole team, not just the coach.

"It's the team, as well, which has shown its willingness and its quality, and that's the most important thing.

"And we benefit also if the players get good publicity in another country, because Belgium, we can say, is the heart of Europe, not just for politics, but also for football."

Turning his attention to the Burkinabe's quarter-final opponents in Nelspruit, Put added: "It's going to be tough, but we've already played three tough games.

"So, we know the quality of Togo is as a very strong, physical team with players who make a difference at any time, with (Emmanuel) Adebayor.

"But I think also I have a great team, they have been showing this and I can see on the training ground yesterday (Friday), the ambiance was there."

His Togolese counterpart Didier Six, meanwhile, lauded the Nations Cup as a shop window through which his players could advertise their talents in pursuit of pastures new among the top footballing clubs of Europe and beyond.

"For the players, the Nations Cup is an extraordinary window," the Frenchman said.

"I told the players that I would like to open a good bottle of champagne or something else when seeing one of them signing on with a top-level club."

Ahead of Togo's first appearance in a Nations Cup quarter-final, he added: "I told the players that they had already written an important page of history for Togolese football, but also that there is still some room to write more."

The other quarter-final on Sunday pits title favourites Ivory Coast against Nigeria in Rustenburg.

Source: AFP