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Ghana could spring World Cup upset, Dujkovic says

Written by: Staff
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BELGRADE, Apr 26 (Reuters) Hard work, discipline and team spirit have united Ghana into a team capable of upsetting the favourites at the World Cup finals, manager Ratomir Dujkovic says.

Inexperience and nerves, though, could take their toll in a tough group in Germany.

''We are a young and competitive team capable of upsetting the favourites but I hope my players don't succumb to pressure in the opening fixture against Italy,'' Dujkovic said.

If any coach is qualified to calm nerves then it is Dujkovic. The 60-year-old Serb has a wealth of experience, having coached Venezuela and Myanmar as well as Rwanda, whom he took to the 2004 African Nations Cup.

He was also on the coaching staff when Red Star Belgrade won the European Cup in 1991.

He is now in charge of a side abundant in talent which has been tipped by some experts as the possible surprise package of the tournament, though poor recent form suggests Ghana may find it difficult to cope with the pressure.

''We would have been the underdogs in any group as it's our first appearance in the finals and we don't have the experience,'' said Dujkovic, who was appointed by Ghana in December 2004.

''But we have nothing to lose either and the lads will play their hearts out for Ghana.'' The West African nation, making their debut in the World Cup finals after 44 years of trying, have been drawn in Group E with Italy, the United States and the Czech Republic.

Ghana play the Italians in Hanover on June 12, the Czechs in Cologne on June 17 and complete their group fixtures against the United States in Nuremberg on June 22.

BARREN SPELL Ghana won the African Cup of Nations four times from 1963 to 1982 but have endured a long barren spell after what was widely seen as the nation's golden football era.

Dujkovic said the success of reaching the World Cup finals has been achieved through imbuing a sense of discipline and team spirit in a side often divided into clans.

''There have been many rifts in the past and previous Ghana generations -- perhaps even more talented than this one -- have suffered greatly as a result.

MORE REUTERS PM KN1330

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