PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — Ghana's players may change their opinion about South Africa being their "second home" when they see the sandy, bumpy field they have to play on in the African Cup of Nations semifinals this week.
Four-time African champion Ghana moves on from the lush surface in Port Elizabeth — where it has played all its games so far — to a ragged and much-criticized field in Nelspruit for Wednesday's last-four game against Togo or Burkina Faso.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah has said that wherever his squad goes in South Africa it feels welcome and at home, following the achievements of 2010 when Ghana reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup. However, the Mbombela Stadium surface promises to be an uncomfortable experience for the skillful Ghanaians.
"The pitch doesn't look good but at the end of the day we haven't got much choice," Appiah said Sunday. "You just have to go there, have a look at it and try and manage it."
Seeking to end a 31-year wait for a title for one of Africa's top teams, Appiah won't have the advantage of previous experience at Mbombela at this tournament — unlike Ghana's opponent.
Togo will have played two games there and Burkina Faso four ahead of the semifinal, 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.