Ghana'sKevin-Prince Boateng has likened the FIFA World Cup™ meeting with Australia at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium later today to a UEFA Champions League final, insisting the entire team is aware of what is at stake.
The Black Stars are currently second in Group D after their opening win over Serbia and are well aware another victory will put them in full command of their pool. This became even more apparent after leaders Germany were beaten by the Serbs yesterday and the Portsmouth midfielder insists they are prepared.
"I think against Serbia we did very well," he said. "We won the game and everyone in Ghana went crazy. "But now I think, as the coach (Milovan Rajevac) said to us in the dressing room, 'this is the game of the season'. So we have to go there and play. This is our Champions League final and we have to do everything to win the game."
Boateng, who only recently qualified to represent the African country, played a prominent role against the Serbs in the absence of regulars Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah. Talking about the spirit in the Ghana camp, he said: "We have a very great spirit in the team, it's like a big family. I'm not here for a long time now, but I can say I'm a family member. There is a lot of love and we pray a lot, so there is a fantastic spirit, which we try to take on to the pitch."
Earlier this week, some of the Ghanaian players talked up their chances against the Australians, with forward Andre Ayew especially vocal following the Socceroos' 4-0 loss to Germany. But Boateng added: "I think Ayew is a young boy that sometimes may come across as arrogant, but I know him very well.
"He's not an arrogant player. I think their game against Germany, we cannot even begin to compare it with our game. This game Australia are fighting for their lives. They all know they have to stick together even more. I think it's going to be a tough, tough game for us."
Australia captain Lucas Neill has described the clash as the biggest in his career. The former Blackburn, West Ham and Everton defender, who now plays for Galatasaray, said: "It's the biggest in my career, especially because I am the leader of this group. I'm the captain of Australia and I don't want to be a guy who looks back on his career as somebody who led Australia to a World Cup and failed to get Australia out of the group. I have that responsibility, but it's a shared responsibility."
And Neill disclosed how the thought of failure had driven him and his team-mates. He added: "We all don't want failure and we're driven by failure. We're driven by fear of not getting out of the group, not winning a game and that's all we need at the moment. I've played in big games before and I'm sure everyone in our team has. But as it stands, this is the biggest game in Australia's history anyway."