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17.06.2008 General News

Derek Dreams Return To Stars

By Daily Graphic
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After over a year's absence from the camp of the Black Stars, Beitar Jerusalem midfielder, Derek Boateng, is looking forward to a return to the team.

The Israel-based Ghanaian says he has not received any invitation since the Black Stars friendlies against Austria and Brazil last year.

“I am always looking forward to playing for the national team because I love my country. I was really psyched up to play in the Africa Cup of Nations, but unfortunately I was not invited but I think the team did well by finishing third. In football you win some and lose some,” he said.

Boateng who won the Israeli league title with his team and was also adjudged the best foreign player for the 2007/2008 season said playing for his country had not only been an honour but had given him a lot of confidence.

“I am willing to play and contribute to the team's success and I will answer to any call from the Ghana Football Association (GFA),” he promised.

Boateng, who moved from AIK of Sweden to his current club in 2006 said settling into the Israeli league was a big challenge because it had many good players from Brazil, Argentina, Crotia and Chile.

After receiving a lot of encouragement from his team mates, however, Boateng picked up his rhythm and emerged the best player of the league for the 2006 season.

About the Black Stars 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaigns, Boateng said he was impressed so far.
“The loss in our last game was very unfortunate and I hope they can make amends in the return leg. I have been very impressed with the high level of commitment on the part of the players. All the leagues in Europe are on break but they are here playing for their nation and I think it is very positive,” he said.

The 25 year-old midfielder who is on summer holidays will leave Accra for his base in a fortnight's time to begin the qualification campaign for the next UEFA Champions League.

Boateng shot up to prominence in 2001 when he and his colleagues, including Michael Essien, John Mensah and John Paintsil, finished runners-up in the Argentina 2001 World Youth Championship. He has since had professional stints with Kalamata, Panathanaikos FC and OFI Crete, all Greek sides.

He made his first appearance at the Germany 2006 World Cup when he replaced Otto Addo at half time in the 2-0 victory over Czech Republic.

Story by Nathaniel Attoh

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