From: Daniel Kenu, GNA special correspondent in Metz, France
Metz, France, April 1, GNA - Black Stars Coach, Marriano Barreto said on Thursday that he was content with the performance of his players in the team's one all drawn game against French first division side, Metz adding that, the exercise has given him the opportunity to assess his foreign legion properly. He said the result did not matter to him but his priority at the moment is how to assemble a formidable squad to contest for a place in the 2006 World Cup tournament scheduled for Germany.
Ghana is in the same group with neighbours Burkina Faso, old foes South Africa, Dr Congo, Cape Verde and Uganda for just a singe slot to the Mundial.
The Portuguese coach said he was particularly happy with the standard of play in the first 45 minutes, during which he lined up his first choice players, which included skipper Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien but had to rest them in the second half because of their tight club schedules.
Appiah for instance came with a special jet and his managers were anxiously waiting to whisk him away even before the end of the match, while Essien had to catch a bus to rejoin his team in Lyon. Ghana took a first half lead when Eric Addo, who returned to the squad after a six-year freeze completed a two-man move initiated by Appiah. But the French team pulled level in the 65th minute after the coach had substituted almost the entire midfielders and attackers with some local players.
"I respect my boys and the worth of their clubs and therefore had to cooperate with them to build good rapport for the future when I will need them most," the coach told the GNA sports in Metz after the match on Wednesday evening.
Barreto has arrange friendly matches with Angola, Portugal and the French national team between now and May to enable him to select his final squad for operation 2006 World Cup, which begins on June 2 against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.
"When I call a player, it means I believe in him and must therefore give him the chance to prove the stuff he is made of," Barreto said. The only high profile player who was unable to make the trip was Samuel Osei Kuffour of Bayern Munich whose club said the notice for his release was too short.
Those who made the trip included John Mensah, Anthony Obodai, Lawrence Aidoo, Derrick Boateng, Eric Addo and two newly found strikers from the English first division league Patrick Agyemang and Lloyd Owusu. Meanwhile, the coach has reacted to claims by King Faisal and Hearts of Oak that he did not seek their approval for the release of their players for the France trip, saying a coach of his calibre could not disrespect the clubs.