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Sports News of Friday, 6 October 2017


2018 World Cup: Play for pride - Stephen Appiah to Black Stars

The Technical Coordinator of the Black Stars, Stephen Appiah says the time has come for the current crop of players to play for national pride despite the heavy odds that are against Ghana in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Black Stars will later this weekend find out if the slim mathematical chance they have of qualifying to the tournament is still alive or over, but first they have to beat Uganda in Kampala and hope that Egypt will falter at home to Congo to stand any chance at all.
Many have given up on the idea that Ghana can upset the odds to seal qualification to their fourth successive World Cup appearance as the qualifiers enter the penultimate stages.

But the man who spearheaded Ghana’s first qualification to the FIFA World Cup (Germany 2006) Stephen Appiah, says even though the challenge seem insurmountable, the Stars must give it their best shot and remember they are playing for pride.

“I think that in life you always have to be positive and you always have to believe in yourself. I remember that when we drew against Congo in Kumasi, people became very skeptical but then we went to Congo and beat them 5-1. Look, I think that it will be difficult for Ghana to qualify because Egypt will play Congo at home and we know that the Egyptians have a good team and won’t let this chance slide. But what I have been telling the Black Stars is that it is time for pride. As you can see, in the FIFA Rankings we are very low so we have to try and win matches and come up the rankings, as far as the World Cup qualification is concerned we say never say never.”

The Black Stars, who arrived in Kampala yesterday (Thursday) have two matches to play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers; one against Uganda on Saturday, October 7 and the last one against Egypt in Kumasi in November.

The Black Stars have been rocked by injuries to key players ahead of the penultimate qualifier with the Red Devils in Kampala.

Skipper Asamoah Gyan, winger Thomas Agyepong and Columbus Crew duo Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah have all been ruled out. This is after Appiah left out Jordan and Andre Ayew.

But despite lacking high profile names, Appiah expects the available players to get the job done.

''Players that are in now, their confidence levels are rising slowly and for that reason, I believe when they go out there, there's not too much pressure on them as they are able to express themselves,''

“The squad is in high spirits especially after the huge win in Congo. We are hoping to extend that form in Kampala,”

“We are not under pressure but a win will be very positive for us. We will give it our all.”

Ghana trail Group E leaders Egypt by four points and Uganda by two points after picking up 5 points from their first four games of the qualifiers.

Watch the interview below

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