Q&A: Ghana captain Ayu on the team’s prospects in the Qatar World Cup. football news

Doha, Qatar – Ghana’s national football team captain Andre Ayu is confident the Black Stars will be a tough team to beat at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which begins in Qatar on 20 November.

Ayew, who plays for Al Saad Football Club in Qatar’s capital Doha, insisted that the Ghanaian squad should be fit for the performance he is hoping for.

After missing out on the 2018 tournament, the Black Stars qualified for this year’s event, where they are in the same group as South Korea, Portugal and Uruguay, the team that knocked them out of the 2010 edition in South Africa.

Al Jazeera spoke to Ayu about the preparation, prospects and expectations of the national team, as well as the benefits of his experience playing in Qatar.

Al Jazeera: Less than two months left for the World Cup. How is the preparation for Black Stars?

AyuWe have everything for a successful World Cup. We should have the best preparation, but the most important thing is that all your players should be fit at that time. We played Brazil, we will play Nicaragua and Switzerland before the World Cup. They are all big games that will be tough even if they are friendly.

These matches are rewarding as we put ourselves to the test and come back as a team to maintain the bonding and unity. Normally we have two to three weeks before the World Cup, but this time we have only nine days. It’s not ideal but we have to adapt.

ghana football
Ghana is one of five teams from Africa to qualify for the World Cup [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Al Jazeera: What are the chances of Ghana reaching the knockout stage from the so-called “Group of Death”?

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Ayu: We have a chance. No one sees us as favorites, which is to be expected. So we know we are not going to go into any match as favourites, but we are there to fight and make an impact. There is no doubt that this will be a very tough group for every team and all we have to do is be prepared, focused, determined, a complete team and a little luck.

If we have our entire team, we can seriously disrupt many teams. I am not worried because I know what Ghana is capable of.

Al Jazeera: Will the game between Ghana and Uruguay be a revenge mission after the heartbreak of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa?

Ayu: As a team leader, I don’t think we should look at this game as a revenge. Instead, we should be smart enough to recognize that this is a match we need points from. We Can’t Ignore History, But Luis Suarez Can [Uruguay footballer] something I could have done in the same situation [used his hand to stop a goal-bound shot in 2010], It hurt us all. But it is part of football and it happened years ago.

After everything said in the media, we want to win against Uruguay. As a player, if you go into a game with the intention of vengeance, you can make a lot of mistakes and get hyper. We just need to stay calm, follow the plan and try to win the game, or do whatever we can to move on to the next stage.

Al Jazeera: What are Ghanaians’ expectations from the Black Stars at the World Cup? Can I meet him?

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AyuGhanaians expect perseverance, determination and a willingness to die for Jersey. When you come to the World Cup, you face super-strong sides and we have shown over time that we can compete with them and in some cases beat them.

But compete and show that you are ready to die for your country. If the result is satisfactory, thank God. If it doesn’t happen, as long as the whole country feels that they have represented the country and Africa in the right way, that is the most important thing for me.

We are here to showcase the football of not only Ghana, but also Africa at the World Cup. Because there are only five African representatives, all teams will have African support whenever they play and thus we must always lag behind our fellow brethren to make history in this tournament.

During the African Cup of Nations, we are all fighting for our countries, but during the World Cup, we are all fighting for the continent. Also, if we can project a good image of Africa on the field and compete against the top teams, everyone will be happy.

Qatar Football World Cup 2022 - GROUPSAl Jazeera: Should Africa have more slots in the World Cup starting in 2026?

Ayu: If we have more teams, that would be great. it is about time. We have the most countries, but we are under-represented, and the African qualifiers are always tough and tense. We have a lot of big teams, and the expectations are high, so it will be difficult for all the big teams to qualify with just five slots.

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If we get more berths, we will have a better chance of seeing an African team reach the semi-finals or even win the World Cup.

Al Jazeera: What are your thoughts on the new players who have switched allegiance to play for the Black Stars? Will they strengthen the team?

Ayu: The players are good, and qualifying for the World Cup makes you very attractive. Why didn’t the boys come? The door is open for any Ghanaian who wants to play for and help the country, but you must come with the same determination that you put in your club, the same desire, and you want to be equal at your European club. cannot expect. National team because it’s time to adapt to the team.

I fully support him and wish him all the best, especially when you come along with a strong desire to succeed. When you have the right attitude and willingness to sweat for the Ghana jersey, I am ready to welcome you even though I am not a coach but a longtime member of the team.

The newcomers are talented, but we already have a strong team that has qualified for the World Cup, so every situation is competitive. Apart from the senior players who can benefit, I believe no one is guaranteed a place in the team right now. Everyone should prove their mettle on the field and everyone has a chance, which gives the coach more options and solutions, formations, and I believe it is beneficial to have new players with the right mindset.