Bance: Burkina Faso’s globetrotting goal-getter

With his giant frame and his instantly recognisable hairstyle, it is hard to miss Aristide Bance, the man who fired Burkina Faso into the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.    

And yet it has been a case of blink and you might miss him when it comes to his club career, which has seen the 32-year-old turn out for sides in a dozen different countries.

The player who came off the bench in Saturday’s quarter-final in Libreville against Tunisia and fired his side into a last-four tie against Egypt is a veritable globe-trotter.

In fact even he has lost count of the number of clubs he has played for, but a glance at his CV shows spells in the Ivory Coast, Latvia, Germany, Dubai, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, among others.

“Twelve clubs, something like that. I have travelled a bit. I have a lot of experience,” the man with the blonde mohawk told AFP.

In fact, it is more like 20 clubs in 12 different countries for a player who was born in the Ivory Coast and moved to Ouagadougou in 2002, at the height of the Ivorian civil war.

It was, he admitted recently, a move made “to protect our lives”.

After several months spent at local club Santos, Bance took off for Europe, joining Lokeren in Belgium, the first on a whistle-stop footballing tour of the world.

“There are some countries where I didn’t have much luck. When I went to Dubai, at the beginning everything went well,” he said.

“After four months I started to have problems with my pay. When a club stops paying you, it’s a way of saying you are no longer in the coach’s plans, so I had real problems there.

“I went to Finland (HJK Helsinki) to play in the Europa League, and in Latvia they were very professional too. I got paid there. I was already used to the cold after a spell in Ukraine,” added Bance, who retains particularly happy memories of his time spent in Germany with Mainz.

His most recent move, from Riga back to Africa with ASEC Abidjan, had a more practical explanation to it.

“In Latvia the season does not start again until March. For me the most important thing was to play.”

He says he masters English enough to get by, wherever he might be, from Samsunspor in Turkey to Irtysh Pavlodar in Kazakhstan. Even if, for all the countries he has played in, he is not a great adventurer.

“I don’t need help when I’m in a shop. Otherwise, I don’t go out much. I am always at home. Training, home, training, back home…when you’re on the pitch there are no languages.”

After this weekend, when the Cup of Nations finishes, Bance will have to consider his next move, and his starring cameo role against Tunisia will have shown clubs that he still has plenty to offer.

But he had a word of caution.

“It is a thankless occupation. When you are playing, people look for you and see you everywhere. Agents want to contact you. But as soon as you’re not getting a game, no agents call,” he said.

For the moment, Bance is dreaming of a repeat of 2013, when he played in the Burkina Faso side that made it to the Cup of Nations final, although they lost 1-0 to Nigeria.

“In 2013 we got to the final and didn’t win the Cup. We must do better this time,” he said. -AFP

Agony for Mane as Cameroon beat Senegal on penalties

Sadio Mane agonisingly missed from the spot to allow Cameroon to beat Senegal 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final tie on Saturday.

The match went to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in the southern Gabonese town of Franceville.

After each side had successfully converted their first four penalties, Liverpool star Mane’s effort was stopped by Fabrice Ondoa in the Cameroon goal.

Vincent Aboubakar then stepped up to score and take the Indomitable Lions through to the last four at the expense of a Senegal side who were widely fancied coming into the tournament.

Cameroon, who also beat Senegal on penalties in the final of the 2002 Cup of Nations, can now look forward to a semi-final tie against either DR Congo or Ghana in Franceville on Thursday.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse had missed the crucial spot-kick in that defeat to Cameroon in 2002, in his country’s only appearance in the Cup of Nations final to date.

Under him the Lions of Teranga had emerged as the team to beat in this year’s competition after comfortably making it through to the last eight, qualifying as winners of Group B with a game to spare.

The Senegal starting line-up showed 10 changes following their 2-2 draw against Algeria in their last outing, with only Kara Mbodj keeping his place.

The fresher of the two sides as a result, they had the edge in a close-fought first half, their best chance coming when Ondoa came for a Keita Balde cross and missed it but Cheikhou Kouyate headed over.

In front of one of the best crowds seen yet in Gabon, Senegal continued to look the more likely side after the restart, but when Mame Biram Diouf headed towards goal from Mane’s clipped cross, Ondoa held the ball at the second attempt.

Balde then tested the goalkeeper with a low strike from range, before Cameroon threatened midway through the second half.

Christian Bassogog’s pass found Benjamin Moukandjo onside in the penalty box, and the Indomitable Lions captain took a touch before prodding the ball towards goal, only for Abdoulaye Diallo to save.

Senegal finished normal time with a flourish and Idrissa Gueye’s powerful shot from the edge of the area took a deflection on its way towards goal, but Ondoa blocked and substitute Moussa Sow found the side-netting with the rebound.

Sow also turned a Balde cross wide in the 90th minute and the game went into extra time.

There, it was Cameroon who had the clearest opening halfway through the extra half-hour thanks to two substitutes, Jacques Zoua playing a one-two with Aboubakar inside the area before seeing his shot saved by Diallo.

And it was Hugo Broos’s side who held their nerve from the spot to go through, meaning Senegal will have to wait at least another couple of years before winning a first Cup of Nations crown.

Reaction

Aliou Cisse (Head Coach, Senegal)

The elimination is not easy for us. It is hard for us and the country, who were expecting so much from us. I feel sorry for the players who wanted to write their own piece of history. It is a big disappointment for me and the entire team. I’m the first person to feel their pain. It is very hard for us in the dressing room, but we can raise our heads high.

The Cameroonian defence was compact from the start till the end. We created several opportunities but they resisted all our attacks. We were not collective upfront and missed a lot of chances. What we missed today was the fact that some players failed to realise that they cannot do it alone.   

For 11 years, Senegal failed to reach this stage. We have worked for two years to reach here.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Hugo Broos (Head Coach, Cameroon)

Today is a great day for my team. Not many people gave us the chance to reach the semi-finals. We played against a strong Senegal team. We fought very hard and resisted several attacks by the opponent.

Luck was on our side too. I congratulate my very young team. They really deserve to be in the semis. Fourteen (14) of my team are playing in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time and our ambition has always been to go far.

The most important element was playing as a team on the field. In that sense, you cannot say a particular player was better than the other. And we needed that kind of performance against an opponent like Senegal and the players did that fantastically. – AFP

February 2017
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