22 June 2014

Ghana: Appiah Proud of Black Stars' Performance

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Asamoah Gyan celebrates his and Ghana's only goal in the match with Brazil.

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah says it was his side's positive attitude that earned them an impressive point against Germany on Saturday, but admits the result is tinged with some disappointment.

The Black Stars trailed early in the second half, before springing into a 2-1 lead thanks to goals from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. But they could not hold on as veteran German forward Miroslav Klose scored his record-equalling 15th World Cup goal.

Victory would have been one of the great surprises of not just this tournament but any in the last few decades, yet would have been fully deserved for the way the Ghanaians confidently took the game to their opponents.

While Portugal had looked almost frightened at times against the Germans in losing their pool opener 4-0, there was no such fear from the west Africans, who knew they had to get something from the match to keep their second round hopes alive.

There is still much work to be done to realise that dream - they need Portugal to hold the United States to at least a draw in their pool match on Sunday, then beat the European side themselves in their final match and hope Germany get the better of the Americans.

"It was a good game. Germany are one of the best teams in the world and we gave it our all," Appiah told reporters after the match. "We had some chances but unfortunately if you don't take them against big teams then you don't end up winning.

"We also wasted a few opportunities to equalise against USA, but that's in the past now. I always had faith because we fight to the end. I believe attack is the best form of defence and that's what we tried to put into practice.

"I always believed in my players and that we could win. It won't be easy to reach the Round of 16 because we've only got one point. There are still a few games left to play in our group and although it'll be tough, it is possible."

Appiah adds that his side will have to be at their best to contain the reigning FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo when they play Portugal, saying they would have a plan for him.

"You can only stop Cristiano Ronaldo, the best player in the world, by working as a team. We can't let him show what he can do."

German coach Joachim Low blamed the hot weather for his side's display, offering little praise to the Ghanaians, a sign he had his excuses readymade before the game started.

"It was difficult for everyone out there and the players are exhausted. It was a very tactical game in the first half, but after the break it was much more cut and thrust," he said.

"We wanted to avoid it becoming too open a match in these temperatures. After going in front we wanted to stay compact, but then they scored two goals out of the blue.

"The side reacted well to that though. We wanted to force them higher up the pitch but they played well and always got back behind the ball very quickly.

"After regaining possession we weren't purposeful enough going forward at times and that prevented us getting behind their defence.

"I think [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Miroslav] Klose breathed new life into the game; [Sami] Khedira and [Mario] Gotze were on their last legs. It was great that Miro got the goal. At this tournament you can't expect to attack all the time in every game.

"A solid defence is the foundation in these temperatures so as not to leave yourself too exposed. Now we'll have to wait and see what happens between Portugal and USA tomorrow [Sunday]. Things haven't changed too much from our point of view, but of course we want to stay top of the standings."

Ghana play their final match against Portugal on Thursday.

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