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Football | Afcon

Kwesi Appiah © Backpagepix

Ghana test Stallions stranglehold



Burkina Faso is one step away from their debut Africa Cup of Nations final when they brace for four-time champions, the Black Stars of Ghana, in the semifinal of the 2013 edition of the continental showpiece at the Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday night, kick-off at 8:30pm.

The Stallions are currently enjoying their best Afcon run since reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in 1998 as hosts.

Since then, Burkina Faso has had to endure five first round exits and in-between failed to qualify for the 2006 and 2008 tournaments.

Burkina Faso host Ghana at Mbombela which has literally been their home since the start of the competition and where they are unbeaten in four games on the highly criticised sandy pitch.

Stallions coach Paul Put says it will not be easy against Ghana despite the advantage of having had to play all their games so far at Mbombela.

"We have to keep our feet on the ground we will face Ghana with both feet on the floor," Put said.

"The first concern is making sure the players do not have wings to fly."

Burkinabe’s wings have somewhat being clipped with their influential striker Alain Traore out of the tournament due to a thigh strain and has since returned to his French club Lorient for treatment.

Rennes attacking midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa has stepped into his shoes in Traore's first match away last Sunday with an inspiring performance and goal in a 1-0 extra-time victory over Togo in the quarterfinals at Mbombela.

Meanwhile, Ghana have toiled to get the semifinals after digging deep to beat Cape Verde 2-0 via two second half goals from Mubarak Wakaso on February 2 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Ghana too will take comfort from the fact that they have not lost to Burkina Faso in their last two meetings and will be feeling bullish about reaching their first final since 2010.

However, no team has come to Mbombela in the competition and won with Burkina Faso so far the only side to pick up two wins there.

And so The Black Stars now face the daunting task of breaking Burkina Faso’s hearts and record in Nelspruit on Wednesday night.

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