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Soccer News of Monday, 31 March 2003

Source: Joy Online

Stars Captain Admits To Concentration Problems

Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah has admitted the team would have to work on it’s discipline and concentration after three players including him were sent off in Ghana’s two games at the four nation invitation tournament in Tunisia.

Appiah told JoyFM in an exclusive interview from Tunis that the Stars who finished third after a marathon penalty win over Madagascar were undone by a lack of concentration throughout the tournament.

He also admitted that while refereeing was not exactly the best, it wasn’t good that Ghana picked up three red cards and promised he and his collegues would work on that poor disciplinary record.

“In the game against Madagascar, one of their players was really rough. He nearly took me out with a very bad tackle and did similar to Matthew Amoah. I pushed him in the ensuing confrontation and got a yellow card. Then I told the referee Gracia, which in Italian means “thank you”. But he clearly didn’t understand so he sent me off. That though is no justification for the cards we picked up. Three reds in two games is not good”, he said.

Appiah insist however that the biggest problem the team faced in Tunis was with their concentration.

“We took the lead and squandered them in the two games against Tunisia and Madagascar. Against Madagascar we were 3-1 up with seven minutes to go and then we messed up. That for me is where our problem is. I am convinced we have every thing. The determination is there. We are aggressive alright but the concentration is not good”.

Appiah belives the Black Stars can still qualify for the 2004 African Nations Cup despite Uganda’s spirited challenge. Uganda and Rwanda drew goalless leaving them one point ahead of Ghana.

"Appiah reckons the decisive game would be the Ghana, Rwanda match up in Accra on June 22. We have to win that one and then stay in contention. If we can do that, then we would have taken a giant step towards qualifying for that tournament.”