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Burkina Faso v Ghana

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Wakaso: Vital for Ghana

Wakaso: Vital for Ghana

Burkina Faso head into their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final with Ghana as underdogs but with a significant advantage having played all of their matches on the heavily criticised Mbombela Stadium pitch.

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The surface of the World Cup stadium has been poor from the start of the tournament, but the Stallions have made it their home, holding Nigeria to a 1-1 draw before thrashing Ethiopia 4-0 and drawing 0-0 with previous winners Zambia.

They then saw off Togo 1-0 in extra-time of their quarter-final clash on Sunday where Jonathan Pitroipa scored a 104th-minute winner.

The Black Stars, who have been steadily improving with each match, earned their last-four place with 2-0 victory over Cape Verde, having finished top of Group A which included an opening day 2-2 draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo, a narrow 1-0 win over Mali and a 3-0 defeat of Niger.

But while Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah is preaching caution ahead of the tie, Burkina Faso counterpart Paul Put is hopeful they can utilise their "home-ground" advantage to secure a final spot against one of either Nigeria or Mali.

Ahead of Wednesday's semi-final, Appiah said: "We've watched other teams playing on that pitch and that's one of our concerns.

"The pitch doesn't look good. But we haven't got much choice. We will just have to go there, have a look at it and manage it."

He added: "I always look at my opponent and how they play and we will adopt a tactic to suit it.

"My tactics will not be dependent on the pitch."

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

"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."

He added: "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."

Burkina Faso must continue to make do without Alain Traore who was ruled out of the competition with injury in the group stages while the Black Stars can again call on the recovered Mubarak Wakaso, who made a scoring return with both his side's goal against Cape Verde.

History is on Ghana's side though with Appiah's charges having beaten Burkina Faso on the two occasions the teams have faced each other, in the group stages at previous AFCON's - 2-1 in 2002 and 1-0 in 2010.

Posted: 05/02/13 08:54

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