Sunday, March 29, 2009


AN amazing half-full Baba Yara Stadium watched the Black Stars have their first training in Kumasi last Thursday afternoon in preparation for their World Cup qualifier against the Squirrels of Benin in Kumasi tomorrow.
Typical of Kumasi fans, they cheered on the players as they worked it out under the tutelage of Milovan Rajevac, and if the attendance at the training was anything to go by then a capacity crowd is expected to witness the game tomorrow.
In fact the demonstration of massive support, even at training, rubbished reports in a section of the media that a group in Kumasi was working to stop supporters from watching the match.
All 23 players practised and did physicals, and the coach was scheduled to take them through two more training sessions yesterday and today before the D-day.
The sweat on the faces of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah and the rest, perhaps, signalled their battle-readiness for the match.
Kumasi fans are so passionate about football, and anytime the Black Stars play in the Garden City the fans give them the impetus to perform.
Aware of the anticipated massive number of fans that will watch the match, the Regional Police administration has put in place adequate measures to ensure the safety of all.
So much talent abounds in camp and the coach may have difficulty picking his first eleven from the pack. A number of the players who constituted the historic 2006 World Cup team are still around and they can only inspire the new ones to make history for themselves by qualifying for South Africa 2010.
The first group game against Benin holds a lot for the Ghanaian team. A good win could catapult the team to greater heights as the group games progress.
Already the front pages of newspapers are predicting victory for our boys, but a word of caution is that this will not come on a silver platter. The team must work extra hard to overcome the Squirrels.
Gradually, Benin have built an impressive team that has some fine materials who, on a good day, can stand toe-to-toe with the Ghanaians.
In Razak Omotoyossi, Soglo, Chitou and the likes, Benin possess a side that can be venomous if let loose.
The Inter Milan midfielder, Muntari, accepts the fact that Benin are a good side and they will never underrate them. “We shall play to the best of our ability, and Ghanaians should pray and support us.”
The skipper of the side, Stephen Appiah, also assured Ghanaians that they are battle-ready even though they know the Beninois would come full of fight.
“I will play my role as a captain, and with God on our side we shall win”, he told journalists after training.

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