Duya is like a father to us -Appiah

Sun, 11 Jun 2006 Source: Reuters

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HANOVER, June 11 - Ghana's players love their coach Ratomir Dujkovic so much, they call him "pap", team captain Stephen Appiah said on Sunday.

"He is more like a father to us than a coach. We even call him Pap," Appiah told reporters ahead of his team's opening Group E game against Italy on Monday.

"It is a special relationship. He talks to us not like a boss but like a person and this means a lot to the players."

Serbian Dujkovic took over in December 2004 and masterminded Ghana's first appearance at the finals. The African nation sacked three other coaches during qualification for Germany.

"All I want to say is that coach Dujkovic finished what other people started and he deserves great respect," Appiah said.

"We have a strong team now with a strong belief."

The 25 year-old midfielder played for eight seasons in Italy before moving to Turkey's Fenerbahce. Most notably he spent two seasons at Juventus where he was a Serie A winner.

He is one of six players in the squad that have played in Italy's top division and he hopes this insider knowledge of their opponents can help cause what would be a huge shock.

"Italy are a good team, but so are we. We need to give them respect, but when we talk about these big-name players, I explain that they should not be frightened," he said.

Appiah said his Black Stars must also learn from the experience of the Ivory Coast who lost 2-1 against Argentina on Saturday, despite dominating possession.

"We are a different type of team but we must take our chances when they come or we will also be punished," Appiah said.

"We are here to compete and not just to play a few games."

Ghana also face the Czech Republic and the United States later in their group.

Source: Reuters