Sports News of Saturday, 1 July 2017
US coach Bruce Arena has designed a special brand of revenge for an old foe, promising to strangle former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah as payback for the nightmare of the 2006 FIFA World Cup loss.
Appiah is now assistant coach to Kwesi Appiah, and will be in the opposite dugout during Saturday’s friendly at Rentschler Field.
“I’m gonna choke him when I see him,” the US coach joked on Friday ahead of the friendly meeting between the two teams on Saturday in Connecticut.
Arena’s last game in charge of the United States over a decade ago was against the Black Stars.
On that occasion, his US Men’s National Team went into the game needing a win to advance to the knockout stages, only to fall to the dogged aggression of the Africans.
Haminu Dramani gave the Africans a 22nd minute lead. Clint Dempsey restored parity two minutes before halftime, but captain Stephen Appiah immediately put the Americans back in their place through a penalty conversion with the last kick of the half
Arena admits that he is still haunted by the experience.
“My experience with the Ghanaian teams is that they’re outstanding. Athletic, technically good, very aggressive in the attack.
“I still have nightmares from 2006 World Cup thinking about Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien.”
Since that first meeting, the sides have met twice more, with Ghana leading 2-1 in the head-to-head, although the USA won the most recent meeting at the 2014 World Cup
Arena says despite the intense rivalry, there would be no talk of revenge, just a test game.
“They have some outstanding players and I think it’s just a great test for us to play against these quality players.
“The African teams, Nigeria and Ghana have some similarities and they’re very good test for us. They play differently from teams in CONCACAF and South America so it’s good to see a different type of opponent of quality and that’s what they bring to us.”