Bad pitch to suit Burkina Faso?

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Paul Put (AP)
Paul Put (AP)

Johannesburg - The pitch at Nelspruit's Mbombela Stadium has received plenty of criticism since the start of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January.

Togo's Emmanuel Adebayor called it a "disgrace," but Burkina Faso's Belgian coach Paul Put believes his side's experience of the surface will be in their favour when they face Ghana in Wednesday's semi-final.

The Stallions played all their group games at the venue, and also beat Togo in the quarter-finals there.

"Even though the pitch is very bad it's our home stadium," Put said.

"Ghana is also a technical and physical team as well, but it's still an advantage for us as we are playing in a 'home' game.

"We have nothing to lose as no one expected us to play in the semi-finals."

The bumpy pitch means that players needed a couple of touches to control the ball.

"So I told the players to be patient and stay well organised because with this pitch you never know," Put said. "With one error they can kick your head off, so we have to be careful."

The Burkina Faso boss said his team is elated to have reached the semi-finals, but the focus needed to be maintained to give them the best possible chance of beating the Black Stars as well.

"I'll keep them with both feet on the ground - I know Africa a little and if you let them fly it never ends," he said.

"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."

Ghana have won all three of their previous Nations Cup clashes with Burkina Faso, the most recent being in 2010 where Ghana won 1-0.

This will be the first time the teams have met in the knock-out phase of the competition.

Ghana were poor against Cape Verde in the second half of their quarter-final in Port Elizabeth but still managed to eke out a 2-0 win.

With Nigeria beating favourites Ivory Coast 2-1 in Rustenburg on Sunday, the tournament has been opened up, with anyone between the Super Eagles, Ghana, the Stallions or Mali capable of lifting the trophy on Sunday in Johannesburg.

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