Soccer News of Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Fifa’s latest international friendly date, which falls on Wednesday, would see Ghana play Montenegro in Podgorica.
The match would be the first of at least three friendlies lined up by the former ahead of its participation at the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah has called up a fairly strong side which features regulars like Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Andre Ayew, indicating just how essential he considers this game even as he prepares his charges for the summer's action.
Thus, bar a handful of high-profile absentees, notably South Africa-based goalkeeper Fatau Dauda, Ghana can count on a full-strength side to defend the nation's colours against Montenegro. Prior to the game, Ghana's 53-year-old coach has singled out Ayew - who plies his trade for Ligue 1 outfit Olympique Marseille and is only returning from a two-month injury-enforced absence - for praise, commending the young forward’s impressive fortes.
“He is a player of world-class technical and tactical level and he is also a leader," Appiah said of Ayew when speaking to Italian website Tuttomercatoweb, adding, “when the team is in trouble he pushes all his companions to fight and not give up. It is important to have him available.”
Though not the Black Stars’ skipper (striker Gyan is), ‘Dede’ would certainly be boosted by his coach’s kind words to help propel the remainder of the team to achieve a respectable result against a country some 15 places beneath Ghana on the current Fifa rankings; a fine way to mark Ghana’s 57th anniversary of nationhood, the celebrations of which would be held a day after the match.
The Balkans themselves have little but mere pride to pick from Wednesday’s game, given their next competitive international assignment - against Moldova to kickstart their Euro 2016 qualification quest - isn't due till September this year.
Branko Brnovic, coach of a Montenegrin side that has only actively been on the international scene for seven years, has accorded Ghana much respect, describing the two-time World Cup finalists as “the best team in Africa” and “a very tough opponent.”
Hopefully, though, all courtesies would be ditched at kick-off, serving up what promises to be a thoroughly thrilling meeting.