Talk of an epic Africa Cup of Nations final between heavyweights Ghana and Nigeria has already begun.

But Ghana will need to first overcome Burkina Faso at Mbombela Stadium tonight, while Nigeria will be up against Mali at Moses Mabhida Stadium in the early match.

However, in football nothing is ever that cut and dried. Ghana are always strong favourites, but will have in the back of their mind that they meekly bowed out before the final in the last three tournaments. The Burkinabe will be keen to prove they are real title contenders and not a mere “distraction”.

“Burkina Faso are a good team,” conceded Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah. “Looking at their games so far, they’re very strong defensively. It’s not going to be easy. We’ll have to do extra work to get a win.”

•Burkina Faso's Bakary Cone and Gyan, Ghana

•Burkina Faso’s Bakary Cone and Gyan, Ghana

Even though Ghana appear to have the edge, given that they have won three of their four games, the Stallions of Burkina Faso have been a revelation at this tournament.

The two sides have conceded the least goals in the tournament – Burkina Faso one while scoring six and Ghana two while scoring eight.

Appiah has expressed belief in his players, among whom are stars such as Mubarak Wakaso, Asamoah Gyan, Christian Atsu and Kwado Asamoah.

His Burkina Faso counterpart, Paul Put, has put his faith in Moumouni Dagano and Jonathan Pitroipa in the absence of injured Alain Traore. A Burkina Faso win would represent a major upset.

And to that end, they will have left nothing to chance in their preparations for one of the biggest matches in the history of Burkina Faso football. “We respect Ghana. They are a great team with great players,” said Put.

“Even though the pitch could be an advantage to us, Ghana are very good tactically and are quite a physical side. But we are playing in our ‘home’ since it’s our fifth game here and that also give us motivation.

“We’ve got nothing to lose because nobody was expecting us to reach the semifinals. Now we are relaxed and waiting for Ghana. Anything is possible in football.”