In Burkina Faso, African football win provides brief respite

A Burkina Faso supporter holds up the national flag in Ouagadougou on January 29, 2022, while watching on television the team's victory in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 quarter final football match between Burkina Faso and Tunisia, played in Garoua, Cameroon. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)
Burkina Faso supporters celebrate in Ouagadougou on January 29, 2022, as they watch on television their team’s victory in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 quarter final football match between Burkina Faso and Tunisia, played in Garoua, Cameroon. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

Thrilled crowds celebrated in Burkina Faso’s capital Saturday after their national team beat Tunisia in a regional football cup, providing welcome respite after a military coup in the country.

Supporters in Ouagadougou pounded their car horns and blew into vuvuzuelas after the Burkinabe Stallions beat the North African side 1-0 in a quarter-final at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

“After everything we’ve been through, football is allowing us to get back a little love of life,” said Arsene Kabore, who wore the national team’s vest inscribed with his name.

The victory came after a military junta seized power from former president Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday after weeks of unrest, including over a deadly jihadist insurgency in the West African country.

The nation’s neighbours on Friday temporarily kicked it out of regional grouping ECOWAS over the takeover led by Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, as they mull imposing further sanctions.

But at a public screening of the match, the crowd was able to briefly forget their concerns and instead cheer on player Dango Ouattara as he scored the game’s single goal on the stroke of half-time.

Agronomist Zakaria Bouda said the football win was a joyous distraction after a tense week.

“It’s a victory for Burkina (Faso) that will allow some reconciliation,” he said.

Ouagadougou residents are supposed to return home by midnight under a nighttime curfew installed by the country’s new rulers.

But doctor Freddy Sawadogo said he did not care.

“Tonight there’s no curfew,” he said. “Even the soldiers are celebrating.”