- Title: GERMANY: Ghana soccer squad already in Germany preparing for World Cup.
- Date: 3rd May 2006
- Summary: WUERZBURG, GERMANY (RECENT)(REUTERS) WIDE/ PAN OF WUERZBURG SKYLINE
- Embargoed: 18th May 2006 13:00
- Location: Germany
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAC85337KBMU6SVHZ3O3V3KBYPF
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: World Cup debutants Ghana will play a friendly against French Ligue 1 club Nice on May 9, replacing two fixtures they had scheduled against Russian club opposition.
The Ghana Football Association said on Wednesday that the change was made to facilitate the release of players from their clubs. Ghana have been drawn with the Czech Republic, Italy and the U.S. in Group E at the World Cup which starts on June 9.
The Ghana squad is already in Germany, based in Wuerzburg on the River Main.
Although this is the first year Ghanains have qualified for the World Cup itself, Ghana has enjoyed tremendous success on the youth level, winning the Under-17 World Championship title twice and finishing second at the World Youth Championship twice as well.
They have won the African Cup four times.
International Mediator for Ghana Anthony Baffoe told Reuters at the team hotel recently: "We aren't coming to the World Cup just to have a kick-around, we are here to represent Africa. I have to say Cameroon were the pioneers, they opened the door for us, they played well for a long time, like Nigeria and Senegal and now we want to show everyone where Ghana is. We want them to remember Ghana for a long time."
Hotel Director Joerg Bacher said: "What is so nice and admirable is that they are such an approachable team, they don't want to shut themselves away from the world and that is also the case for the four weeks of the tournament. They want to continue to have contact with the population and with the fans."
The Ghanaians are training at the local Wuerzburg Kickers' stadium and club chairman Rudolf Thomas said: "We have done everything possible to make the Ghana team feel comfortable. There is a sauna and everything they need and I hope that Ghana do really well in the World Cup. I hope they get to the final and then they can stay with us as long as possible."
The Ghana squad drew 1-1 in a friendly in Wuerzburg against German Bundesliga club VFB Stuttgart on April 26.
Coach Ratomir Dujkovic was considered to have used the friendly to assess players before naming his World Cup squad on May 15, the deadline set by football's world governing body FIFA.
The Black Stars received a warm response in Wuerzburg, where they shall be staying during the World Cup. The German fans put aside their local allegiance to welcome their guests and there were queues for tickets and even more of a rush for autographs.
Soccer fan Juergen Hempel said: "I think it is good in general. It is just great that Wuerzburg is able to take part in the World Cup, I think it is really great."
The 1-1 draw made sure nobody left the stadium feeling sorry, but then Ghana already has a good relationship with Wuerzburg. The Bavarian town might be a long way from the African continent, but they have close contacts, Wuerzburg hosts an annual Africa Festival. This year it is from May 24-28 -- the perfect welcome for the African teams ahead of the World Cup.
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