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Ghana rue missed chances but stay upbeat

Written by: Staff

HANOVER, June 13 (Reuters) World Cup debutants Ghana believe a little luck and some more sharpness in front of goal can still see them through to the World Cup second round despite a hard-fought opening 2-0 loss to Italy yesterday.

''I still believe we can reach the group stage. I believe in my team and I am confident we can get a good result against the Czech Republic,'' coach Ratomir Dujkovic told reporters.

''We are improving with every game. The players are a little disappointed but we will pick them up. The important thing is we played well.'' Goals from Andrea Pirlo and Vincenzo Iaquinta gave the Italians a victory that left the African side needing at least a draw in their next game on Saturday against Czech Republic, who cruised past the United States 3-0 earlier in the day.

Ghana dominated possession for long periods of the second half, driven by a powerhouse midfield of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and captain Stephen Appiah.

Essien, the African continent's most expensive player ever after last year's 47.92 million dollar move to Chelsea, said the team would focus on finding more potency in front of goal in the build-up to the Czech game.

''We need to sharpen up a little bit up front and that's what we will work on in training in the next few days,'' he said.

''We looked strong tonight. We could have lost or won, but that's football. It didn't quite come through for us.'' Muntari also said he felt Brazilian referee Carlos Simon could have granted at least one of two penalty appeals while the game was still at 1-0 in the second half.

''We had two chances for a penalty. One could have been a penalty, because he (Italy's Daniele de Rossi) pushed him (Asamoah Gyan) in the box. But the referee was right there so we can't say anything,'' he told Reuters.

''The Czech Republic play very good football, which is our game too. If things go our way, I'm sure we can win.'' REUTERS AY PM0956

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