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20.06.2006 Sports News

Muntari would be missed - Essien

By (By Veronica Commey, GNA Special Correspondent in Wurzburg, Germany,)
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Wurzburg, June 19, GNA - Michael Essien, Ghana's influential midfielder says the absence of Sulley Ali Muntari will be telling, when the team plays the United States of America (USA) in a last group game in Nuremburg on Thursday.

The Chelsea midfielder had combined superbly with the exceptional Udinese left footer in recent games and believes the void created is extremely huge.

Essien reckons the team has in stock players that are capable of filling roles and said the Stars would fight well to ensure they glittered against the bottom-placed Americans who, play with an amazing aggression.

He said the win against Czech Republic on Saturday was timely and buoyed the team to build on that performance to ensure they qualified for the next stage of the competition where they might meet Brazil.

The player who won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award on Saturday is under no delusion about the strength of the American team, adding the Stars would resist the temptation of underestimating them.

"I know a few of their guys who play in the premiership and I know they are very physical and I clearly understand their worth too."

Essien, said the Ghanaians were ready for all and would be hoping to consolidate their inclination in the game against the Americans presently ranked fifth in the World.

He told the Media in Wurzburg on Monday that "I expect a very tough game and I know in football anything can happen.

"I'm not sure about a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure we will fight for a win. That much I know."

The player dedicates his MVP award to the entire team for their hard work - a trait he was convinced would manifest itself on Thursday.

Without Asamoah Gyan who had distinguished himself as the penalty taker for the team, Essien, 22 says "I will accept the responsibility of taking the penalties if we get any against USA in the absence of Asamoah."

The "Bison" is hoping luck smiles towards the team that requires a win to make it to the next stage.

Essien missed the Nations Cup in Egypt in January and is considered as the hob around which the team revolves.

The player made eight out of ten appearances for Ghana during the qualifiers, scoring four significant goals to propel the team to greater heights.

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