5 February 2013

Ghana/Burkina Faso: Black Stars Face Burkinabe on Controversial Pitch

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Man of the match, Aristide Bance of Burkina Faso, scored one of his side's goals and one of their penalties in the shoot-out.

Nelspruit — Much of the same is what Paul Put has ordered for Burkina Faso as they go into Wednesday’s semi-final against Ghana at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit as underdogs.

“I’m very proud with what we have achieved up until now and we are preparing for this game against Ghana just as we have for all out other matches here,” said their Belgian-born coach on the eve of the match. “We are doing it with serenity and concentration.”

Burkina Faso feel they have a major advantage over Ghana because they have been based in Nelspruit throughout the tournament, emerging as the surprise winner of group and eliminating defending champions Zambia.

The pitch at the Mbombela Stadium has been a major talking point and Put feels four games’ experience on the hard and sandy surface stands his side in good stead.

“It is a psychological advantage for us because it will be our fifth game at the Mbombela Stadium. We know the pitch will be equally bad for both teams but in our heads we know we can play on it."

Burkina Faso beat Ethiopia and Togo at the venue and drew with both Nigeria and Zambia.

But if the Burkinabe coach was seeking to play mind games with his opponents, Kwesi Appiah of Ghana was having none of it.

“We need to compete whether the pitch is good or bad,” he said at a separate news conference in Nelspruit on Tuesday.

“My players are all professionals and used to different conditions. Back home in Ghana we play regularly on far worse pitches. We need to take our mind off the pitch issue,” he added.

Ghana have played all four of their previous games on a lush green turf in Port Elizabeth.

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