Vanguard (Lagos)

4 August 2011

Africa: 2014 World Cup - Ghana Vows Not to Underrate Any Opponent

Photo: 2010 FIFA OC
Crowds at the Nelson Mandela Stadium during the 2010 FIFA World Cup (file photo).

Ghana will not take their Group D opponents in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers lightly, Black Stars assistant coach Akwesi Appiah has said.

The West Africans were placed in the 'Group of Death' to play Zambia, Sudan and Lesotho or Burundi after the Saturday's draw in Brazil.

The Black Stars have struggled in recent matches against Sudan while Zambia are in good form in the qualifiers for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

I'm not moved - Ugandan coach

Uganda Cranes Coach Bobby Williamson says he is not carried away by the 2014 World Cup draw since he needs to first concentrate on the tournaments ahead of him.

The Scot told Daily Monitor that in the meantime, they will shift their focus on the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers. Uganda needs one point from the two remaining group matches to qualify for the most celebrated tournament in the continent.

"Any group was always going to be difficult.

"But the Nations Cup and All Africa Games are my concern now.

"We first have to work hard and qualify for the Nations Cup, and then we can think of the World Cup."

The Black Stars were drawn in the same group when they qualified for the 2010 World Cup and are now in the same group with Sudan for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Appiah, a former Black Stars captain, admits every match must be tackled with all the seriousness it deserves.

"All these countries particularly Sudan and Zambia are all big footballing countries," Appiah said

"I don't know why we keep drawing Sudan in every competition, Zambia have also been doing very well and countries that have never been to the World Cup are now all eager to get there which makes it even more difficult for us."

Ghana must top the group to proceed to the final qualifying stage where a draw will split the 10 group winners into five two-leg ties.

The aggregate winners will then qualify for the finals.

The Black Stars assistant coach thinks the new qualification format is strenuous than four years ago when group winners advanced automatically to the global tournament.

"This new pairing appears much more difficult than previous ones but the most important thing is to keep focus with our preliminary group," Appiah said.

"We need to gather more information on the countries we are playing and until we get to the final round, concentration should be on our immediate opponents but I however believe with the quality of our team we can sail through when we get there."

Jordaan tips Bafana Bafana to progress

A favourable initial-round draw in the World Cup qualifiers will provide a ray of light for Bafana Bafana to gain a prized place in the 2014 tournament in Brazil, SA Football Association (Safa) vice-president Danny Jordaan has said.

The prospects, however, would become a great deal darker at the end of the qualifying tunnel, Jordaan warned, with a possible tie against the likes of the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt or Cameroon.

"The opening round for Bafana against Botswana, ranked 71st in the world, Central African Republic (89th) and Ethiopia (139th) or Somalia (191st) could not have emerged much better," Jordaan said.

"But when it comes to the final hurdle, in which the 10 remaining countries will be vying on a home-and-away basis for the five World Cup places allocated to Africa, Bafana could end up playing one of the other seeded nations."

Jordaan said it had not yet been clarified how the Confederation of African Football would pair teams for the final qualifying segment, but the likelihood was that the decision could come down to a nervy draw involving the elite of African soccer.

Jordaan, the head of the 2010 World Cup organising committee, returned from Brazil on Monday where he attended the draw as a Safa observer.

He said the glittering function in Rio de Janeiro augured well for a another memorable event following on the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

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Crowds at the Nelson Mandela Stadium during the 2010 FIFA World Cup (file photo).

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