NELSPRUIT, South Africa (AP) — After reaching the second round 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 Sunday.
"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 stadium now."
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.