Burkina Faso will have a huge advantage over Ghana on the ragged and much-criticized field in Nelspruit when they clash in the semi-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.
The sandy and bumpy field at the Mbombela Stadium is from the lush surface in Port Elizabeth where the Black Stars has played all its games so far in the competition in South Africa.
Seeking to end a 31-year wait for a title for one of Africa’s top teams, coach Kwesi Appiah won’t have the advantage of previous experience at Mbombela at this tournament — unlike Ghana’s opponents Burkina Faso.
The Stallions have played four matches at Mbobela ahead of the semi-final, leaving the Ghanaians to fly to the northern city on Monday and quickly try to get used to a field branded “a disgrace” and embarrassing for African football by Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
It was also described as “not good enough” for the tournament by the organizing Confederation of African Football.
The Mbombela Stadium surface promises to be an uncomfortable experience for the skilful Ghanaians.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium field in Port Elizabeth has helped Ghana’s slick passing game, allowing its team of quick and talented youngsters to play.
Conversely, Burkina Faso has made the last eight for the first time on foreign soil by flooding the midfield and shutting down more expansive teams on the Nelspruit sand.
That leaves Ghana playing catch-up ahead of the semi-final.