Stephen Appiah claims the Black Stars are ready for their 2022 World Cup opener against Portugal on Thursday.
“I spoke to some of our players this morning and they are ready for this afternoon,” he said on QatarWithBetway Twitter Space hosted by Michael Oti Adjei.
Appiah captained the Black Stars in their World Cup debut in Germany in 2006. He was in South Africa in 2010 when the Black Stars almost made history.
Four years later, he was in Brazil, this time as a member of the Black Stars’ management rather than a player.
The former Juventus midfielder witnessed the Black Stars lose 2-1 to Portugal in Brasilia and exit the tournament at the group stage, so he believes Thursday’s meeting provides an opportunity for the Black Stars to exact revenge.
Given its wealth of talent, Portugal is unquestionably the favourite. They can not only rely on Cristiano Ronaldo, but also on Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, and Bernado Silva.
However, Appiah has identified a weakness in the Portuguese team that he hopes the Black Stars can exploit.
He said, “The Portugal team do not track back. So we can capitalize on that and punish them but we have to be careful in doing that because the Portuguese team is capable of anything.”
“What I have realised in this World Cup as compared to 2014 is that it is not about the talent. It is about teamwork and determination throughout 90 minutes,” he added.
Appiah expects some Black Stars players to be nervous. Only Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew have previous World Cup experience among the 26 players invited by coach Otto Addo.
“I think every player has his own way of approaching a game. I was always relaxed when approaching a game. I play the game the night before the game so you will see me on the day relaxed.
“I expect a lot of tension around some of the players because it would be their first and biggest-ever tournament. Some of them may not be able to have their lunch,” Appiah said.
The game will take place at Doha’s Stadium 974 and will begin at 4 p.m. local time.