Stars focused for return leg-- Partey

BY: Peter Sarbah
Thomas Partey
Thomas Partey

A Deputy Black Stars skipper Thomas Partey says the team will remain focused on tomorrow's World Cup qualifier with Zimbabwe in Harare, and as such they will not get carried away by their 3-1 victory over the Warriors at the Cape Coast Stadium last Saturday.

Partey, who scored Ghana's second goal to set the team on course to victory on home soil, said there was the need to be measured in their celebration, and avoid complacency going into the match.

''Unfortunately most of us were not able to play the game against South Africa and we lost, but today we did our best now we have to enjoy this win today and then we think about Tuesday," Partey told the media after the match.

Similarly, Coach Milovan Rajevac says there is no time to celebrate and has urged his players to immediately focus on tomorrow's game which could be very crucial to their qualifying campaign.

''I want to congratulate all the players for their effort, we did this together and so we are looking ahead and thinking about the next much. We have the next match in three days' time, so we have to focus on our next challenge,'' said the Serbian through an interpreter.

However, Zimbabwe captain, Knowledge Musona, has promised to exploit weaknesses in the Black Stars setup in their return leg. He said they had identified some frailties in the Ghana set up which they intended to capitalise on to make sure they denied Ghana from picking the maximum points.

''We have seen their [Black Stars] weaknesses and also we are going to work on the positives that we got from the game. So these next two days it's time to plan as much as possible for the next game because now we know how they play.

"We are going to prepare accordingly and also try to improve on the things that we did wrong today,'' said the winger who plies his trade with Al-Tai in the Saudi Professional League.

He stressed that the Warriors had not given up on their dreams for a slot to the World Cup and would continue to fight to win the remaining matches, despite having just a point from three games and are rooted at the bottom spot on the Group G log.

''We are going to fight until the end, we are playing for our national team and it's our pride, whatever points that we end up with we'll make sure that we give our opponents hard time to win. So it's not over yet if we win the next two games we will also be on seven points so it's still on until the end'', he said.

Ghana still remain second behind South Africa on the Group G log with six points, one point less than the Bafana Bafana who thrashed Ethiopia 3-1 at the Bahir Dar Stadium last Saturday.

Tomorrow's clash at the National Stadium in Harare could prove crucial for the Black Stars who are hoping to topple South Africa from the summit of the league log with back-to-back victories over Zimbabwe.

It will be the first time the Black Stars will be playing in Harare since 2001 when Isaac Boakye's injury time winning goal gave Ghana a 2-1 win over Zimbabwe and ended their dream of making an appearance at the 2002 AFCON.

For Zimbabwe coach, Norman Mapeza, he has all but given up on their World Cup dreams but maintained that his side would remain very competitive in Harare for a favourable result.

''I don't believe in the word revenge, it’s a game of football. You can only revenge in boxing not in football so I cannot talk about revenge. We are going to play Ghana on Tuesday, we'll play with the best of our abilities and try to get results not about revenge," Coach Mapeza said.

Caoch Rajevac is not expected to tinker much with his winning side, with Thomas Partey, Kudus Mohammed, Kamaldeen Sulleymana Andre Ayew and Daniel Amartey all expected to start for the Black Stars who cannot afford to drop points, especially with South Africa fancied to beat Ethiopia in Johannesburg to maintain the top position in the group.