Ghana ex­pect Oz to play it cau­tious

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

GHANA cap­tain John Men­sah is not ex­pect­ing Aus­tralia to throw cau­tion to the wind as they seek to re­vive their World Cup cam­paign by beat­ing the Black Stars here to­day.

Aus­tralia were pun­ished for play­ing an open game against Ger­many in their Group D opener and the 4-0 de­feat has left the Soc­ceroos fac­ing vir­tu­ally cer­tain elim­i­na­tion if they lose to Ghana at the Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium.

Ghana, in con­trast, are on a high af­ter a 1-0 win over Ser­bia that has given them a great chance of reach­ing the last 16, as they did in Ger­many four years ago.

“The tour na­ment couldn’t have started much bet­ter for us, win­ning our open­ing game against a tough Ser­bian team,” said Men­sah.

“But now we’re look­ing to go on and we’re to­tally fo­cused on Aus­tralia.

“I didn’t watch all of the Aus­tralia ver­sus Ger­many game but I watched lit­tle bits. Ger­many cre­ated a lot of chances but I don’t think that’s the way Aus­tralia are go­ing to be against us. I think it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent.”

Men­sah, who is hop­ing a loan move to Sun­der­land from French club Lyon will be made per ma­nent af­ter the World Cup, also re­vealed that he is fi­nally feel­ing fully fit af­ter a sea­son blighted by re­cur­ring in­juries.

“There was a prob­lem in my back that caused prob­lems in my calves and the backs of my legs, but they have a good physio, and I have my own physio out here with me now at the World Cup,” he said. “But I’m fine now... feel­ing good.

“We got to the sec­ond round in Ger­many four years ago, but things change in foot­ball and I can­not proph­esy that we will do that again, but we are all de­ter­mined and fo­cused on our mis­sion.”

Men­sah is one of only a hand­ful of vet­er­ans of the 2006 cam­paign in what is the youngest squad at the tour­na­ment.

But what Ghana lack in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence is com­pen­sated for by the qual­ity of the emerg­ing stars, ac­cord­ing to the cap­tain.

“The young play­ers have sur­prised us,” he said. “There were many of us older play­ers that weren’t at the Cup of Na­tions (where Ghana fin­ished run­ners-up) but the young play­ers went there and they demon­strated their qual­ity and did well and we’re all proud of what they did.”

Men­sah also cred­its Ghana’s coach, Milo­van Ra­jo­vac, with in­still­ing a greater tac­ti­cal aware­ness in a squad that has come to trust the Ser­bian.

“The coach is good,” he said. “He does his tac­ti­cal thing and we do what he says and we all be­lieve if we do that we will be suc­cess­ful.

“This com­pact play, that’s what he wants and it’s what we do and we all be­lieve this com­pact play will help us move for­ward.”

Aus­tralia will be with­out their most po­tent goal threat, Tim Cahill, who is sus­pended as a re­sult of the red card he re­ceived against Ger­many. He will re­tur n for the fi­nal group match, against Ser­bia in Nelspruit on June 23.

Mid­field an­chor Vin­nie Grella will also miss to­day’s match, as a re­sult of a knee in­jury, with Carl Va­leri ex­pected to start in a line-up fea­tur­ing sev­eral other changes from the side that was over­run by Ger­many. – Sapa-AFP

GALLO IM­AGES

HOLD­ING ROLE: Ghana’s John Men­sah, seen here check­ing Marko Pan­telic of Ser­bia, is ex­pect­ing a tight, tac­ti­cal game against Aus­tralia to­day.

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