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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 08:53 GMT
Ohene Djan waging pitch battle
By James Copnall
BBC Sport, Accra

The Ohene Djan pitch
It's important that there is some grass cover on the pitch, otherwise we'll get to the second week and the pitch will look bare

Frank Boahene
The pitch in the Ohene Djan stadium in Accra has been one of the stories of the tournament so far.

Ghana's vastly experienced French coach Claude LeRoy called it "the worst I have seen in 20 years in African football" after Ghana's opening game victory over Guinea.

The grass, left extremely long, made dribbling the ball difficult, forced technical errors, and resulted in a large number of long passes being misjudged.

The players hated it.

Even now, several days after the opening games, they are worried the state of the pitch will be a factor in subsequent matches.

"We like to play football, and it is very difficult on a pitch like that," said Morocco's Abdeslam Ouaddou.

So what is the reason for the poor playing surface?

606: DEBATE

The man in charge of all the pitches at Ghana 2008 is Frank Boahene, a former groundsman at Fulham in the English Premier League.

"Sometimes in football you have to take decisions, and one of those decisions was to protect the pitch," Boahene told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

He explained he left the grass long because lots of teams were training on the pitch in the days before the opening game.

"It's important that there is some grass cover on the pitch, otherwise we'll get to the second week and the pitch will look bare," he said.

Abdeslam Ouaddou
Ouaddou has complained about the Ohene Djan pitch

Boahene also explained he couldn't treat the pitch in the way he would have wanted on the day of the first game, because of the opening ceremony.

"I would have liked to mow the pitch, but it was fully covered.

"Even the watering was an issue, at the time we wanted to water the pitch the brass band came on, playing the national anthems!"

The groundsman accepts the pitch wasn't at his best for the opening game, but is confident his pitches will be in good shape for the rest of the tournament.

The playing surfaces in the three venues outside Accra have been of a better standard, and haven't created such controversy.

But players, supporters, and Mr Boahene, will be watching the state of the Ohene Djan pitch very closely.

SEE ALSO
Ghana coach LeRoy fumes at pitch
20 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Guinea v Morocco
23 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Ghana v Namibia
23 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Ghana 2-1 Guinea
20 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations


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