Ghana ignoring state of Mbombela pitchComment on this story
Nelpsruit – Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has brushed off the poor state of the Mbombela Stadium pitch ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) semi-final against Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
“You've got no choices, you just need to go out there and compete, whether the pitch is good or bad,” Appiah said on Tuesday.
“When we get to the pitch, they're just going to walk around the pitch. They're all professionals and back home, they'll play on pitches that are much, much worse.”
The playing surface was covered in soil prior to the start of the tournament, due to the high rainfall in the area, but it proved to be a counter-productive move as the field became uneven and made it difficult to play carpet football.
Burkina Faso appeared to have used this to their advantage, with their direct counter-attacking game seeing them winning two and drawing two of their four games in Nelspruit.
Midfielder Anthony Annan said the Black Stars, rated 66 places higher in the world rankings, knew they needed to be at their best to beat a confident Stallions side in what should be a highly competitive west African derby.
“We know it's not going to be an easy game,” Annan said.
“Burkina have their good players as well so I think it's going to be very, very competitive, but I think we are also prepared for that.”
Ghana, chasing their fifth title, last won the continental competition back in 1982.
They have also finished as runners-up on four occasions, and Appiah was taking nothing for granted.
“When it comes to west Africa, our style of play, our mentality is somehow almost the same,” the coach said.
“At this level, it takes little things to be able to be successful, and looking at Burkina Faso's games they've played so far, they're doing very well defensively.
“Their midfield and defence is really good and that's why I said it's not going to be easy.”
Burkina Faso have been the surprise package of the tournament, reaching the last four for only the second time in their history.
The Stallions topped Group C after beating Ethiopia and drawing with Nigeria and Zambia, before edging out a 1-0 extra time win against Togo to earn the right to play for a place in the final.
The minnows are without star striker Alain Traore, who is out for three weeks after injuring himself against Zambia, but captain Moumouni Dagano knows how to find the back of the net, having scored 24 goals in 60 internationals, while attacking midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa underlined his goal threat with a superb header to win the game against Togo.
Wilfried Sanou and Abdou Razack, the Ivory Coast-born player, also shown themselves to be a real threat going forward.
“What I know is we will play with confidence. Nelspruit is our 'home' ground,” said Burkinabe coach Paul Put.
“Ghana are a big team, but we have already played Nigeria and Zambia, so you never know.” – Sapa