Sandy field an advantage for Burkina Faso
After reaching the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations
on foreign soil for the first time, Burkina Faso is well placed to
take advantage of the difficult surface at the Mbombela Stadium and
go even further.
A disciplined showing from Burkina Faso saw it hold Zambia to a
0-0 draw on Tuesday to finish at the top of Group C and advance at
the defending champion’s expense.
Knowing that the sandy field has made attacking football almost
impossible, the Burkinabes have concentrated on nullifying their
opponents and looking to hit them on the counterattack.
That tactic has brought draws with both Zambia and Nigeria, as
well as a 4-0 win over Ethiopia, which represented Burkina Faso’s
first victory at the African Cup of Nations since it hosted the
tournament in 1998.
The team will face either Togo or Tunisia at Mbombela Stadium on
”We don’t know who we are facing, so we will have to see. But
we know that we are playing in Nelspruit, so that is an
advantage,” Burkina Faso coach Paul Put said. ”It is our home
While Burkina Faso’s progression may have upset pre-tournament
predictions, it did not come as a surprise to Tuesday’s opposition,
which knew that the majority of the Burkinabes have experience from
leagues outside the African continent.
Six members of the 23-man squad play in France’s top division,
and only four are with African clubs.
”We expected anything because Burkina Faso is a strong side
with players who are in Europe, and they have been in the African
Cup for a long time without going through to the quarterfinals,”
Zambia midfielder Rainford Kalaba said. ”So this was their chance
to show their fans back home they can do it for their
That was the message which Put delivered to his players prior to
the game against the defending champions.
”I told the players, `You have to write history. It’s the
moment to write history. Maybe this chance will never happen
again,”’ Put said. ”I think Zambia always played long balls,
which was also an advantage for us. We focused on winning the
second ball and I think we did that well. I’m very happy for the
players because I think they deserve it.”