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09.06.2006 Sports News

Germans warm to Ghana

By Reuters
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WUERZBURG, Germany, June 7 - About 7,000 fans flocked to Ghana's first open training session on Wednesday, many wearing the national colours or waving the country's red, gold and green flags as reggae music blared from the stands.

Wuerzburg Kickers' ground was at least half full as the Black Stars went through their paces, with some neat touches to show that they are not just here to make up the numbers.

"They're my second team for the tournament," said local engineer Simon Schreck, who was sporting a yellow Ghana soccer shirt he had picked up on a business trip to the country.

"I think they'll come second and so get through."

Ghana face Italy in their opener in a tough group E, before tackling Czech Republic and the United States.

A number of Ghanaians, mostly from within Germany, had also come to watch their team.

Koffi Gamedi, a Wuerzburg-based electrician with Ghanaian roots, said he was delighted that the national side were based in his home town.

Restaurant worker Stephen Kingsley Mensah had travelled over 400 km to visit his brother in Wuerzburg so he could attend Wednesday's training session and hopefully find a match ticket.

"The first game in Hanover is going to be really big. There are loads of Ghanaians in the area, particularly in Hamburg," he said.

Robert Williams, a biotechnology student at Wuerzburg's university, was already armed with a ticket for their final group match against the United States in nearby Nuremberg.

"Of course, we are the underdogs but we could well surprise Italy in the first match. Then we could make it through."

"Everyone back home is really excited. I have been visiting the team hotel every day and can tell people what's going on."

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