NELSPRUIT, South Africa (AP) — Zambia became the first defending champion to crash out of the African Cup of Nations at the group stage in 21 years after being held to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday by Burkina Faso, which advanced to the quarterfinals.
With Nigeria beating Ethiopia 2-0 in Rustenburg to advance, a third successive draw was not enough for Zambia to progress.
Burkina Faso sailed through at Zambia's expense, topping Group C and creating its own history as it reached the second round for the first time on foreign soil.
The last team to win the African Cup of Nations and then fail to qualify for the second round at the next tournament was Algeria back in 1992, but Zambia coach Herve Renard remained philosophical.
"It is better to have won something in your life than to go always in the quarterfinal and never win anything," he said.
"This is not the end of the world. Before we used to go home a lot of times after the first round, and today you have to accept that this is football."
In a game that was low on quality, Zambia striker Collins Mbesuma missed clear-cut chances either side of the break.
For its part, Burkina Faso knew that a draw was all it needed and was content to flood the midfield and slow the game down, particularly after it lost leading goalscorer Alain Traore to injury in the 10th minute.
"The ingredient for the day was more pepper than salt for the soup," Burkina Faso coach Paul Put said.
Zambia failed to produce the quality required to break its opponent down, and was not helped by the sandy Mbombela Stadium pitch.
Mbesuma had a gilt-edged opportunity in the 17th minute, but hit Chisamba Lungu's cross straight at Burkina Faso goalkeeper Daouda Diakite.
"If I blame the pitch then people will say I'm crying," Renard said. "But I think after this press conference you just have to go on the pitch and see if it is possible to play very good football."
Rainford Kalaba also forced a save from Diakite in first-half stoppage time as a cross drifted to the back post, but his weak header was easily dealt with.
Zambia flooded forward as the second half wore on, yet the only genuine opportunity came when Mbesuma headed a corner over the crossbar.
The only previous time that Burkina Faso had reached the second round was when it hosted the competition in 1998.
"I think it's Burkina Faso's biggest achievement because they hosted it one time and then they reached the semifinals," Put said.
"Our first target was to do better than in (more recent) African Cup of Nations, and we had already achieved that by drawing with Nigeria and beating Ethiopia. I think it's history for Burkina Faso."