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Soccer News of Wednesday, 18 August 2004

Source: Graphic

Meteors sure to qualify

Volos (Greece) 18 August 2004 - Even before tonight's last group preliminary game between the Black Meteors and Japan, the focus seems not to be the outcome of the match.

With victory almost a certainty for the Meteors in Volos, what had been agitating minds was what opposition the team was going to encounter next from Group A, namely fellow African contenders, Mali, Korea, host nation Greece and Mexico.

Maybe the Meteors can even look beyond tonight's game and rather bother about their opponents in the semi-final match.

From their two games played so far, the Meteors have established themselves as very strong contenders in the race for gold.

The team is a solid unit that boasts of players who exude so much confidence.

The defence made up of goalkeeper George Owu, John Mensah, Dan Coleman, Emmanuel Osei and Emmanuel Pappoe has thus far lived up to expectation, although the two goals conceded to Italy dented the perceived impregnability.

William Tierro, Razak Pimpong and Yusif Chibsah in midfield, have performed the needed role to augment the striking potency of the attack of Stephen Appiah, Asamoah Gyan and Baffour Gyan. Should the Meteors win well tonight and top the group, they will have to move far away to Thessaloniki and face the runners-up in Group A.

But if they place second to Italy who top the table with a superior difference, then they will take on the leaders in Group A in Athens.

Wherever the match will be played is of little significance as the Meteors have demonstrated their capability to win anywhere in Greece.

What they need to do is not to relent in any game in order to avert the near-tragedy that befell them in the match against Italy.

Meanwhile, Ghanaians resident in Greece have been doing everything to motivate the players to win their games.

They travel every distance to cheer the team on to victory.

In the first match against Italy, they were in Volos which is about 500 kilometres from Athens.

In the second match at Thessaloniki which is a little over 800 kilometres from the capital, they turned up from every part of Greece to support the Meteors.

The over 200 organised supporters coming from Ghana were expected to depart Accra yesterday for Athens by a chartered aircraft.

Meanwhile, after the Meteors' two games against Italy and Paraguay, many people in Athens, especially non-Africans, continue to confess their admiration for the team.

They are of the view that another Ghana-Italy clash, or a match against Argentina will be a thriller fit for the gods and goddesses.

As of August 15, 53 players, including Ghana's John Mensah, Emmanuel Pappoe and John Paintsil, had been cautioned for various offences.

All three were cautioned in the match against Italy.