Former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah is more than confident the Black Stars can pick up maximum points in their crunch Group E qualifier against Egypt on November 13th.
The Black Stars began their campaign to a fourth World Cup with a draw at home against the Cranes of Uganda which sparked a major concern for worry and the question of the ability of this Black Stars team came into play again. On Sunday the Black Stars will look to make a huge statement with a win over the Pharoahs and former captain, Stephen Appiah who played 69 times for the Black Stars including Ghana’s maiden World Cup campaign believes the stars are capable of picking up a good result.
“We all know that it is a big game looking at the result we got against Uganda makes the game more than difficult for us. Playing with Egypt is always a pleasure. In my playing days, I loved the challenge of playing against big teams and I think Egypt will be one these players will like.
“It is a very tough game but I believe the boys will be prepared to take this on. It is football. We can go there and win. We all have to pray for the Black Stars, we have to believe in them and as I said the Stars know how to play big games. I will be their number one fan on Sunday and I hope they get the three points from Egypt” He said.
Anything other than a win for Ghana might not auger well for our qualification hopes. As it stands now, Ghana is in second place two points behind Egypt who beat Congo away in Brazil in the opening match of the qualifying games. The Black Stars eagerly need a win to get their hopes back on track- ominously for them though they play in the hostile environment of North Africa.
On the African continent, playing at home is always a great asset. The Black Stars playing in Alexandria with the biggest ever crowd to be witnessed by Egyptian sports fans since the Port Said riots four years ago and a possible vengeance of a 6-1 loss should be daunting. Appiah who took the Black Stars to even tougher grounds in his time as captain reckons it is always tough when the focus is on the opposing side and their teaming fans.
“I remember in 2005 when we played against South Africa at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, I remember they hadn’t lost a game in that stadium. During the warm up, as soon as we came out of the dressing room, we saw them celebrating, dancing to loud music and the loud noise of the vuvuzelas- we had not seen a thing like that before so Muntari came to me and said “Capito, today’s game will be very difficult and I said Yes but we will beat them so it motivated all of us.
“It will be very difficult and knowing how frustrating the fans can be, it will be difficult but the Stars know that everything is at stake at the moment and they will give everything to overcome the pressure and win it.” Appiah recounted.
That result in Johannesburg was the one which resonated across Africa and became the banner of confidence for the Stars in the rest of the matches they played that year. It is in no doubt Appiah remembers it so fondly.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper has named his strongest side yet in the run-up to the game against Ghana. A perfect cocktail of local and international stars have been brought in to aid the Pharoah’s massive qualification to a first World Cup since 1990.
Big names like Mohammed Sallah whose hat-trick for Roma in the weekend game against Bologna will big him up on confidence, Mohammed Elneny the Arsenal star and the highly rated Ramadan Sobhi who plays his club football for Stoke City. These guys are big players who are doing well at the height of their careers and at the top of world football. But should that plunge the Ghanaians into a state of trepidation, Appiah says NO!
“Players who have big names only have to motivate you as a player. A chance to show them that you are better than them. I always like to use myself as an example, when I got to my first training at Juventus, I saw all the big players. From Antonio Conte to Takenadi, Emerson, Edgar Davids and all the stars, I asked myself if I could match up to their quality but I was unfazed because I wanted to do so well for myself.
I trained well and I got a position in the team. So big players should motivate any player. I am sure when Ghana faced Uganda, our players motivated the Ugandans. It not going to be an easy game but Ghana will sail through. Our players are not scared of theirs.
We are not hoping for the negative but the positive. The Black Stars can go all the way and qualify for the World Cup. The most important thing is the games we have to play at home. We have to get our points and then try to win a few away games and I think that we can qualify for Russia.”
A win for Ghana in Alexandria looks a bit farfetched but with support, collaboration and teamwork it might all go well.
By Yaw Ofosu Larbi |TV3 Sports|3news.com|Ghana