Soccer News of Friday, 20 January 2012

Source: KICK OFF

Muntari issues Ghana rallying call

Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari claims the Black Stars will not wilt under expectations, like Ivory Coast, and is adamant they will have no excuses if they fail to win in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.

Ghana will arrive in the Gabonese city of Franceville on Friday determined to end 30 years of failure to win the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Black Stars have won Africa's showpiece event four times, which is only bettered by Egypt's seven, but their last triumph came in 1982. Since then Egypt have won five trophies, while Cameroon have won four in that period.

But the Black Stars are determined to add to their haul and Muntari, who played in the side that failed to reach the final in 2008, says unlike the Ivory Coast, who have failed in the face of massive expectation recently, Ghana will not let the opportunity slip.

"It is not negative pressure," Muntari told KickOffGhana. "We are Ghana, very different from Ivory Coast. If we focus, train well then we are on the right path.

"Because since 2008 we have been approaching there. Now we are feeling it more. The whole nation is behind us. Now we have a great manager who is determined to win and passes that on to us very well. We know how important it is for us to win. That is what we want as a team.

He added: "There is pressure but we want to win. To be champions you have to deal with pressure and we want to do it. It is not going to be easy."

Muntari reckons Asamoah Gyan's return represents a major boost for Ghana but is keen to point out it is collective team effort that will earn them the trophy.

"He is one of our top players. He is very important in our team. Seeing him back in the team makes everyone happy but we don't want to rush him. We want to see him back strong but he is a top player and we definitely need him.

"I think we just have to be a unit, be strong in the mind and not listen to the doubters and that is what we are doing. Most of the young guys are taking everything easy. We are taking it game by game."

And while many of Ghana's players reckons Ivory Coast are Ghana's biggest obstacle, Muntari says he is just happy to focus on Ghana. "Ivory Coast has a great team, great players, we do the same. There are a lot of countries who can spring surprises. We want to do well and concentrate on ourselves."