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16.10.2005 Football News

Ghana: No longer under-achievers

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Ghana: No longer under-achievers
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THEIR record is enviable.

Champions of Africa four times.

World champions at youth levels.

But almost ridiculously, Ghana have never qualified for the World Cup despite boasting names like Abedi Pele, Antony Yeboah and Nii Lamptey.

This time round, they dominated Congo, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands and Uganda to win Group Two by five points.

Solid in all areas, Ghana have impressed most with their tireless midfield department.

Chelsea's new signing Michael Essien and Fenerbahce's ex-Juventus star Stephen Appiah are known to most Singapore fans.

But at 21, Udinese's young starlet Sulley Ali Muntari forms one-third of this stunning midfield trio that many coaches would dream of having.

The last 12 months have been a godsend for Muntari at Udinese.

As an undisputed starter for the team, he emerged as the lungs of the team, combining a resolute defensive work-rate with pinpoint passes to the attacking players.

And while Vincenzo Iaquinta and Antonio Di Natale fired in the goals, Muntari consistently weighed in with solid performances of the highest level. They ultimately sealed the club a fourth-place finish in Serie A, their best-ever position.

As a raw 16-year-old, Muntari became an integral member of Ghana's U-20 team as they finished runners-up at the 2001 Fifa World Youth Championship in Argentina, losing to the hosts in the final.

Starting every match in defence, the youngster crossed paths with - and eliminated - future stars of the calibre of Brazil's Adriano, Kaka and Julio Baptista, and France's Djibril Cisse.

Muntari has the touch of Brazil's Kaka and the combativeness of Holland's Edgar Davids.

Elevation to Ghana's senior squad soon came, and Muntari won his first cap against Burkina Faso in June 2004 in the World Cup Qualifiers.

The rest is history.

And history is also what Muntari and Ghana intend to make next June in Germany.

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