Football is by far the most popular sport in Burkina Faso. And the national association can look back on recent developments with a great deal of pride. Reaching the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations on home soil in 1998, qualifying for the FIFA World Youth Championship in the UAE in 2003, and appearances at two final competitions of the CAF U-17 Cup, as well as third place at the FIFA U-17 World Championship in Trinidad & Tobago in 2001 are Burkina Fasos outstanding achievements at international level. The nations most famous players include Kassoum Ouegraogo, nicknamed Zico, who had his most successful seasons with Espérance de Tunis before ending his career in Germany, Siaka Ouattara, who spent his entire career with Mulhouse in France, and Moumouni Dagano, who was voted best African player in Belgium in 2001, when he played for the Belgian side Genk. He later went on to play for the French side Guingamp before transferring to another French team, FC Sochaux in 2005. Burkina Faso received an unexpected free pass into the group stage of the 2006 FIFA World Cu qualification process, when their opening round contestant, the Central African Republic, withdrew from the competition. This gave the West Africans, who were at that stage ranked 14th on the continent, the certainty that their name would be in the hat when the Preliminary Draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany was made. They got off to a flying start, beating Ghana 1-0 in their opening match and laying down a marker for their Group 2 adversaries South Africa, Cape Verde Islands, Congo DR and Uganda. The victory train began to come off the rails with two defeats to Cape Verde, and with a record of two wins and three losses, Burkina Faso were up against it at the half-way stage. Frenchman Bernard Simondi took over the coaching reins from Ivica Todorov and made the team harder to beat at home, even recording wins over South Africa and Congo DR, but in the end it was not quite enough, and the likes of Abdoulaye Cisse, Moumouni Dagano, and Wilfred Sanou went no further in the competition.