Ghana counting on spirit and teamwork

June 24, 2006

WUERZBURG, Germany, June 24 (Reuters) - Ghana face a daunting task to beat world champions Brazil in the second round of their debut World Cup but their ability to work as a team could see them through, coach Ratomir Dujkovic said on Saturday.

The Serbian coach told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's game he was proud of Ghana's achievements and their campaign would not necessarily end against Brazil as experts predict.

'I believe in our guys. They have the capability,' he said on Saturday after they became only the fifth African team to get past the first round at a World Cup.

'It's very difficult to stop them (Brazil). If you stop Ronaldinho, there is Ronaldo. If you stop Ronaldo there is Roberto Carlos. If you stop (him) there is Kafu so it will be very difficult, very tough.

'(But) the (Brazilians) are not doing so well as before with all these stars. They have excellent individuality. But as a team they are not playing so well as before.'

The South Americans opened their campaign with two unconvincing wins over Croatia and Australia but looked far sharper in a 4-1 win over Japan in their third match.

In contrast, Ghana opened their tournament with a 2-0 defeat by Italy before a marked improvement saw them beat the highly-rated Czech Republic 2-0 and the United States 2-1 to become the only African team left in the second round.

'I'm very happy and proud of my guys, how they played and... defended the country and the continent,' Dujkjovic said. 'These are historic results because this is our first appearance in the World Cup and I believe we can do more in the future.'

The players have looked relaxed in training since their win on Thursday and Asamoah Gyan, the young striker who missed the game against the U.S. through suspension, said there would be no pressure on the West African side.

'It means an awful lot to me and I am sure I will be excited when the game comes around,' he said. 'It's so special to face a team like Brazil in the World Cup.

'But there is no pressure on us. We can be relaxed. We have our own strengths so we have to go out and enjoy the game.'

Despite the euphoria there was one note of sadness, however, as influential midfielder Michael Essien will miss the game