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Soccer News of Friday, 14 April 2006

Source: BBC

Agyemang bids for Ghana place

Patrick Agyemang is hoping that his height will gain him a place in Ghana's squad for the World Cup in June.

The England-born player is battling with four others for one of the places reserved for strikers in the Black Stars team at the tournament in Germany.

At 6ft 1in, Agyemang, who plays for the English championship side Preston North End, is literally head and shoulders above regulars Matthew Amoah, Asamoah Gyan, Isaac Boakye and Baba Adamu, who average 5ft 8in.

Ghana face Italy, Czech Republic and USA in Group E at the World Cup, who all have tall players.

Italy's first choice-defenders Paolo Maldini, Christian Panucci, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta average 6ft 1in in height, while the Czech striker Jan Koller is one of the tallest players in the game standing at 6ft 7in.

Agyemang, who has scored six goals for his club this season, is hoping that his height will put him ahead in the pecking order for selection.

"When I look at the squad I realise I am the tallest player in the Ghana squad," he told BBC Sport.

"And as we will be coming up against teams with big defenders at the World Cup, we need the presence of someone like me who will win the headers in the opponents' area, score goals and create chances for the other strikers."

The 27-year-old returned to the squad last month in Ghana's friendly match against Mexico after a three-year absence.

He says even though the Black Stars are regarded by many as underdogs in the group, the current crop of players will surprise fans at the World Cup.

"I realise the squad I played with three years ago has changed.

"The current crop of players have taken the game to another level with guys like Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien and Sammy Kuffuor.

"A lot of people regard us as the underdogs of the group but will we will shock them and go very far in Germany."

Ghana open their Group E campaign against Italy on 12 June, before taking on the Czech Republic on 17 June and the USA five days later.