Africa Cup of Nations 2013: ‘Pitch experience will help Burkina Faso’

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Paul Put hopes Burkina Faso's experience of Mbombela Stadium pitch will help his side beat Ghana

By Sportsbeat

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put says that his side are banking on their superior knowledge of the unpredictable Mbombela Stadium pitch to overcome much-fancied Ghana in Wednesday’s Afcon semi-final.

Having played all four games on the much-criticised playing surface without tasting defeat, the Nelspruit ground is seen as a home-from-home for the Stallions.

And though more akin to a sand pit, Burkina Faso’s Belgian manager believes his side’s experience could be decisive in their bid to reach their first ever Afcon final.

“We respect Ghana they are a great team and great players but one thing is sure we are playing in Nelspruit for the fifth game – so it’s our home stadium now,” he said.

“It’s always an advantage having played on the pitch.

“It’s very difficult because you need one or two controls before you can play the ball, while on the training ground its only one touch.

“So I told the players to be patient and stay well-organised because with this pitch you never know.”

Winless at the tournament for 17 games before this year’s edition, Burkina Faso topped a difficult Group C before knocking out quarter-finalists Togo in extra time.

And with the Stallions boasting the tournaments best defensive record, it promises to be an intriguing match-up against a Ghana side yet to truly hit top gear.

Having drawn with DR Congo in their opening game, the Black Stars have bagged themselves three wins and knocked out Cape Verde in the previous round.

But with performances at times laboured, and main man Asomoah Gyan finding the net only once, the four-time winners will look to improve against the Stallions.

Compared to their opponents, the Ghanaians will have no previous experience of the Nelspruit pitch having been unable to even train on it.

And admitting it could have a bearing on his team’s approach, Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah was also not underestimating their opponents.

“Looking at the pitch we may have to change our tactical play,” he said. “But we have played on worse pitches before.

“Burkina have a very good team. There are some key players that we have to pay attention to.”


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