New Vision (Kampala)

5 February 2013

Ghana/Burkina Faso: Ghana Wary of Pathetic Pitch, Burkina Faso Delighted

IF the state of the Namboole Stadium pitch during the just concluded CECAFA Challenge Cup was best described as a 'pig sty', then the Mbombela pitch here is slowly but surely degenerating into a 'cattle Kraal'.

In fact, if it wasn't for certain 'supernatural ' efforts from a team of professional grounds men, the pitch would have been unplayable and the quarterfinal fixture between Togo and Burkina Faso could have possibly been relocated to Johannesburg.

But as of yesterday, the local organizing committee's plan A, B and C were to have the game played at the Mbombela no matter the state of the pitch.

So what do the two teams -Ghana and Burkina Faso -that will have the misfortune of taking to such a pathetic pitch think?

"It's a bad pitch but we like it here. We do not want to move. We just love the pitch. If this pitch is going to take us to the final, then who cares," Burkina Faso coach Paul Put stated, of course with selfish interests considering that all Burkina Faso's Group C games and the quarterfinal against Togo have been played on the sandy pitch.

The Stallions have looked comfortable with their aerial approach effective enough to counter the bumpy surface. It's where Burkina Faso are likely to hold the edge over the Ghanaians that thrive on passing the ball around the floor. Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has already raised his concerns.

"I have watched the other teams playing on that pitch and that is our biggest concern. It isn't good at all," he pointed.

Before the start of the tournament, the Mbombela pitch was regarded as one of the best five venues. However after the first game between Zambia and Ethiopia, concerns were raised.

According to the local organizing committee (Loc) chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe, the damage to the pitch was caused by heavy rains that resulted in the growth of algae.

The groundsmen have attempted to get rid of the algae with chemicals, but the persistent rains have prevented the chemicals from being effective.

No bribery:

Apart from the pitch concerns, Ghana have over the last few days had to deal with the allegations of bribery against their captain Asamoah Gyan.

In the aftermath of Ghana's 3-0 win over Niger, Asamaoh was accused of offering Niger defender Danka Koffi more than R176000 (sh53m) to throw their match.

However, Gyan and the Ghanaian Football Association released a statement yesterday, saying the accusations were "irresponsible, reckless and mischievous".

Dankwa is Ghanaian by birth, longtime acquaintances with Gyan from the national junior ranks, but opted to play for Niger after being ignored by the Black Stars.

At the post match conference following Ghana's progress to the semi-finals, Gyan was asked to comment on the bribery allegations but before he could grab the microphone, a CAF official intervened and dismissed the question.

All Asamoah has to do now is prove his innocence by leading the Black Stars to their fifth title in history.

Wednesday:

Semi-finals

Nigeria v Mali 6pm

Ghana v Burkina Faso 9.30pm

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