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25.05.2006 Sports News

Dujkovic ends Ghana's 44-year World Cup wait

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Serbian coach Ratomir Dujkovic has earned a reputation as something of a footballing magician in Africa in recent years after leading Ghana to their first World Cup finals appearance.

A former Yugoslav national team goalkeeper, who narrowly missed out on his country's squad for the World Cup finals in West Germany in 1974, Dujkovic galvanised Ghana's flailing campaign and engineered a remarkable comeback after taking over halfway through the qualifying group.

His success with the Black Stars follows his coaching of Rwanda to the 2004 African Nations Cup finals for the first time -- ironically at the expense of Ghana. Dujkovic, who turned 60 in February, is a former national coach of Venezuela and Burma and was on the coaching staff of Red Star Belgrade when they won the European Cup in 1991. He hails from Borovo.

As a goalkeeper at Red Star he was a semi-finalist in the European Cup in 1970 and the following year won the first of four caps for his country, conceding just one goal in his brief international career in 1971.

Dujkovic moved to Spain in 1974 with Real Oviedo and ended his career back home with Galenika Zemun almost a decade later.

Dujkovic's first World Cup experience was a harsh one, failing in the qualifiers with then perennial losers Venezuela in South America in 1992, but under his tutelage the country achieved only their second World Cup qualifier win.

He also coached Venezuela at the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador and Venezuelan soccer has improved greatly in the last few years, owing something to the foundations he laid during his tenure.

He was coach of Burma in 1996, taking the country now known as Myanmar to the Tiger Cup in Singapore, before returning to Venezuela as coach of Atletico Zulia, taking charge of their participation in the Copa Libertadores in 1998.

Dujkovic agreed to coach Rwanda in 2001 although famously admitted afterwards: "I had to look it up on the map, I had no idea where it was."

The appearance of the tiny east African country at the Nations Cup finals in Tunisia in 2004 was a major upset and the side came within one point of a quarter-final place.

Dujkovic returned to the Nations Cup with Ghana this January but his side disappointed by not getting past the first round.

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