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Football | Afcon 2019

Kwesi Appiah © Backpagepix

Pitch issue not a distraction - Appiah



Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said the controversial Mbombela Stadium pitch in Nelspruit will not be a distraction for his players in Wednesday's African Nations Cup semifinal against Burkina Faso.

Much of the grass had been killed by a fungus in the build-up to the tournament after recent heavy rains and had to have a coating of sand, leaving it hard and patchy in a major embarrassment to organisers.

Appiah sought on Tuesday to deflect attention from the issue.

"We need to compete whether the pitch is good or bad," he told reporters.

"My players are all professionals and used to different conditions. Back home in Ghana we play regularly on far worse pitches. We need to take our mind off the pitch issue."

The local organising committee have not allowed any teams to train on the field. Usually each country is allowed one training run on the match pitch on the eve of their first appearance at a venue but that has been denied those teams who have played at the Mbombela Stadium.

Burkina Faso have played all five of their matches in the lead up to the surprise semifinal appearance at the venue, which sit on the outskirts of Nelspruit amid rolling hills.

Burkina Faso coach Paul Put, perhaps in a bid to score psychological point, has made much of his side's familiarity with the conditions.



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