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Archive for Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Brazil wary of upstart Ghana

June 27, 2006

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— Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira sees a specter hovering above the second-round game with Ghana.

"It's a dangerous, risky match," Parreira said Monday. "In the round of 16 we have to deal with the ghost of elimination (for the first time)."

Brazil will meet Ghana, which survived a tough group in the first round, today in Dortmund for a spot in the quarterfinals.

"The responsibility Ghana is facing cannot be compared to ours. They are straight shooters," Parreira said. "All the pressure is on the Brazilian national team. We will have to keep our heads in place not to lose control."

Playing in their first World Cup, the Africans finished second to two-time champion Italy in Group E, which also included the Czech Republic, ranked No. 2 by FIFA, and the United States, ranked fifth.

"It's a team that needs to be respected. It played three good games in a very difficult group," Parreira said. "It eliminated the Czech Republic, which was one of the favorites to advance to the next round."

Parreira, whose first coaching job was with Ghana in 1967, said the African team is the "biggest surprise of the World Cup."

Still, the defending champions were confident of advancing to the next round.

"If Brazil plays what it knows, it shouldn't have any problems getting past them," Brazil defender Roberto Carlos said. "How many world titles has Ghana won? None. How many has Brazil won? It makes a difference."

Brazil is boosted by a convincing 4-1 win over Japan last Thursday, in which it improved considerably from lackluster victories against Croatia and Australia.

"Brazil is prepared to face anybody. There's no reason to fear any opponent," said Ronaldo, who scored twice against Japan after shaky performances in the first two matches.

Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic said a team psychologist and daily prayers at training were helping calm nerves before the Black Stars take on the five-time world champions.

"I will tell them ... please don't be afraid of the shirt of the Brazil, and don't stand and look at your idols and see how they are playing. Try to stop them," Dujkovic said.

While Brazil is seeking a record sixth title, Ghana is trying to become only the third African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Senegal did it in 2002 and Cameroon made it in 1990. No team has reached the semifinals.

"I think we've made history. It's our first time in the competition and we've made it to the second round," Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari said.

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