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FILE PICTURE: The playing surface at the National Stadium appeared sandy and dry in patches, just hours before kickoff of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Picture: Lefty Shivambu, Gallo Images

Johannesburg – The playing surface at the National Stadium appeared sandy and dry in patches, just hours before kickoff of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Burkina Faso on Sunday.

American rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at the arena last weekend, and the area where the stage had stood was still patchy.

The other half of the field was in much better condition, with good green coverage.

Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA) had said on Wednesday that the surface would be ready for the final.

“We are 100 percent comfortable the pitch conforms 100 percent to Fifa regulations. I still believe it's one of the better pitches in the country at the moment,” said SMSA chief executive Jacques Grobbelaar.

Grobbelaar had explained the field was 50 percent synthetic.

“We decided to rip out the pitch in the middle of December last year. We installed a brand new 50 percent artificial pitch.”

The stadium owners had been criticised for the state of the surface during the Soweto derby clash between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in December, just days after a Lady Gaga concert.

There had also been complaints by players and coaches concerning the state of the Mbombela Stadium pitch in Nelspruit, which hosted eight matches in the Afcon tournament. – Sapa


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