Ghana midfielder Michael Essien says the current Black Stars squad possesses more quality and is the best the nation can take to the World Cup.
The AC Milan player named in Kwesi Appiah’s preliminary squad could be making his second appearance at the World Cup if he makes the cut.
At 31, Essien is one of the few experienced heads in the Ghana team that will be expected to play an integral role in the Black Stars’ third appearance at the biggest stage.
‘The squad for this tournament is the best Ghana has to offer, and the quality in depth is extremely good, especially in midfield. We have multiple options in most positions which is always a plus for any side,’ Essien told fifa.com.
Essien, who played in Ghana’s debut World Cup in 2006 in Germany admits the national team has been on the rise over the last decade.
‘I think we have done well for a nation that made its debut on the world stage in 2006. We did okay in our first outing and went one further in South Africa, and that says a lot about the players and the nation as a whole. Our desire to do well spurred us on in both World Cups, and I think it is fair to say we have done better than some of the nations who have been to three or more World Cups.
‘Germany 2006 was very good, and we had a great time throughout the tournament. We were a young, talented group with no World Cup experience and in some way that helped us because we were fearless and had nothing to lose. Throughout the qualifiers we played very well and bonded as a team, as brothers. When we got to Germany we were ready to deliver and we did our best. I am proud to be one of the first players to be at Ghana’s first World Cup.’
Placed in a tough Group G with Germany, Portugal and USA, the Black Stars are aware of the high stakes in reaching the second round.
‘Our initial aim will be to get out of the group into the second round, and then take it from there game by game. Who knows? We are certainly capable of going one better and making it to the semi-finals or even finals. Anything can happen, but we are realistic enough to know we cannot aim that high from the start. Get the first objective of making the second round out of the way, and we will see how far we can go. It will be a journey without doubt, one we are looking forward to,’ said Essien.
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