Asamoah Gyan says qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™ the second time round has been even more pleasurable than the last. The Ghanaian striker, whose six goals for Stade Rennes in France’s Ligue 1 this season has sparked a new sense of life into his game, says the Black Stars are highly satisfied with their work in the 2010 qualifiers.
Ghana qualified for their first FIFA World Cup four years ago, coming from behind in a group that included South Africa to snatch top place. For the 2010 finals, they have sauntered through their qualifying programme, making sure of their place with two rounds of matches still left to play.
“We did great they second time round,” he smiled. “The first time was quite complicated but now we’ve reached the finals without losing a game [in the final round of qualifiers] so it’s been more satisfying for us, although it wasn’t easy. It’s a great achievement.” says the striker, who turns 24 at the end of the month.
Ghana finished top of their first round group with four wins and two defeats, edging ahead of Gabon and Libya in the standings. In their second group, they quickly saw off the threat of Mali and went on to win four in a row and qualify before defeat in their last match away at Benin, which was nothing more than an academic assignment.
“On paper Mali were one of the favourites because they have so many good players but we beat them 2-0 away with almost a second team because we had so many injuries,” continued Gyan.
Gyan says although the FIFA World Cup is just over half a year away, he has had little time to excited about the prospect of competing again. “The CAF Africa Cup of Nations is just around the corner and we are concentrating on that first because it is important for us and after that we’ll think about the World Cup,” he told FIFA.com.
The Black Stars owe their fans for the disappointment of not winning on home soil at the last edition in 2008. “We made a lot of mistakes and everyone of the players is ready to show Ghanaians what we can do.”
Gyan says he is now fully fit after a litany of injuries have sidelined him over the last seasons, at Rennes and before that at Udinese. “It was really difficult for me but this season I have started so well and I have found my scoring boots. I hope it continues. Sitting on the sidelines was so frustrating for me, watching my colleagues playing when I knew I could do as well, if not better. I felt very sad and disappointed but I had my friends around me to push me and give me words of encouragement. Now I’m better and I ’m happy to be back.”
Gyan, who holds the honour of having netted Ghana’s first goal at a FIFA World Cup when they beat the Czech Republic in Cologne, is adamant that the Black Stars are aiming for the top prize in 2010.
“Individually we have a good team and I think we are also united and we are ready to face anyone who we meet. Players like [Michael] Essien, [Sulley] Muntari and John Mensah, These are guys who are world class. We have a good team and we are ready to show the world what we can do for the second time.
“I can’t predict where we’ll finish but if everything goes well, if we concentrate, I think we are going to have a great World Cup.”