Soccer News of Sunday, 19 January 2014

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Optimism drives Atsu as Ghana faces tough group

Ghana certainly do have a tough challenge on their hands to advance from the group stages when the World Cup begins in Brazil this year.

After being handed a tough draw alongside former champions Germany, the United States and Portugal, the stakes are high for the two-time finalist, the Black Stars, who will be making their third-straight appearance.

In their previous appearances, Ghana have twice qualified from the group stages and such is the optimism, winger Christian Atsu carries when the action starts in Brazil.

Atsu, now on loan at Vitesse is enamoured by the prospect of helping Ghana deal with such challenges.

“When I saw the group I realised how tough it would be, but I said to myself 'this will make us work extra hard as Germany, Portugal and USA are all strong and have quality players,” he explained as he assessed Group G.

“But now everyone is doing all they can to get into the squad and then from there we will all fight for positions in the team. But the more we fight together as a team, the stronger we will be.”

For the 22-year-old winger, the experience of getting to the quarter-finals at South Africa 2010 is something he believes will be invaluable in the dressing room, particularly for those at their first global finals.

“We need the likes of [Michael] Essien, [Asamoah] Gyan, [Sulley] Muntari, [Kevin] Prince-Boateng, [Kwadwo] Asamoah, we need these experienced players in Brazil," he insisted.

"They know what it is like in these kinds of tournaments so it will be very helpful if they are with us as they are able to help us young ones.”