Soccer News of Saturday, 11 January 2014
Former Ghana international, Opoku Afriyie, has urged Coach James Akwasi Appiah to be conscious of selecting only players with high work rate and experience to form the bulk of the Black Stars team for the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil.
He says it is equally important for the Coach to strengthen the defence of the Stars in the build-up towards the tournament to make the team more formidable.
According to Opoku Afriyie, one major challenge that also confronted the team during the World Cup qualifying stages was goalkeeping and has, therefore, requested Coach Appiah to select goalkeepers who are very active and enjoying enough playing time in their respective club sides.
“Our two-leg matches against Egypt during the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers exposed our goalkeepers. That is why Akwasi Appiah should spend much time to monitor our goalkeepers and select only those with high work rate as our safe hands,” Opoku Afriyie advises.
“We need to have an all-round team if we are to make any meaningful impact in Brazil, and fortunately for Ghana, we have good attackers who were scoring during the qualifiers. The midfield is also very cohesive because we have players who can propel the attackers to deliver. Our main headache is in defence and goalkeeping, that is why Akwasi Appiah needs to select those who will be up to the task,” Opoku Afriyie told the Graphic Sports in an interview last Monday.
Speaking on the telephone from Kumasi on the chances of Ghana qualifying from the group stage in the competition Opoku Afriyie, who was a star striker of the 1978 Black Stars team that won the African Cup for the third time, noted that “the draw is normal because like Ghana, all the teams in our group qualified on merit”.
“We need to have a winning mentality, so it is up to the coach to select players who have the ability to combine experience with high work rate to put Ghana through the group stage and beyond.
“If we are to progress from the group stage and go beyond what we achieved in South Africa 2010, then we should see our group as normal and strive to win all our matches, irrespective of the teams thrown at us at that stage,” he advised.
According to Afriyie, “we are fortunate that all players who featured prominently for the Stars during the qualifiers play big time soccer in the foreign leagues with most of the players they will be meeting in Brazil, so they will not experience any inferiority complex. They only have to play as a team, and if that happens, Brazil 2014 will be a big success story for Ghana”.