Soccer News of Friday, 29 August 2014

Source: Ghanaian Times

World Cup scandal won’t affect 2015 AFCON – Atsu

Ghanaian midfielder Christian Atsu believes the off-the-pitch World Cup matters have been nipped in the bud ahead of the start of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The Black Stars players protested when the payment of their appearance fees delayed and had to be persuaded to train ahead of their final Group G clash against Portugal, which they lost 2-1.

There were disciplinary issues which resulted in the expulsion of senior players Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari.

Boateng was sacked for insulting head coach Kwesi Appiah in the full glare of his teammates and Muntari thrown out after physically attacking a Ghana FA official without any provocation.

Ghana suffered a first round exit despite having quality players, and failed to better or equal the quarter-final feat chalked at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Asked whether Ghana could suffer from the World Cup hangover when they open their Group E campaign against Uganda on September 5 in Kumasi, Atsu told journalist Russell Wiafe: “For me personally, I don’t think so; because we are professionals and we have what it takes to put that behind us and make our nation proud.

“We know it’s not been easy for us, but we are hoping that the entire nation will be able to rally behind us and cheer us on in those matches that we will be playing. We have a very good squad to make it to the African Cup of Nations.”

Meanwhile, Uganda coach Micho Sredojevic is closely monitoring Ghana ahead of next week’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash, insisting on the Black Stars' axing of three key players could boost his opponents.

The Serbian trainer, who claims he has deep knowledge of the Black Stars, says the exclusion of the Black Stars top players for the match in Kumasi could motivate the youngsters in the Ghanaian squad.

The Cranes come up against a Ghanaian side whose coach Kwesi Appiah dropped five stars from the team that represented the Black Stars at the Brazil World Cup including Sulley Muntari, Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng among others for apparent indiscipline.