Ghana target third World Cup tournament in a row

By Michael Oti AdjeiBBC Sport, Accra
Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari

Stand-in Ghana captain Sulley Muntari is expecting a tough battle as the Black Stars launch their bid to reach a third consecutive World Cup.

The 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists open their campaign at home to Lesotho on Friday before taking on Zambia.

"It will be difficult because they will stay back and defend, so we know what to expect," Muntari told BBC Sport.

"The World Cup is an amazing event and every player wants to play in it - I personally want to do it a third time."

Only three African teams have ever qualified for three World Cup tournaments in succession: Cameroon (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002), Nigeria (1994, 1998, 2002) and Tunisia (1998, 2002, 2006).

The Italy-based midfielder, who has played in seven of Ghana's eight World Cup matches during the 2006 and 2010 finals, is assuming the captaincy in place of John Mensah.

Ghana's long-standing skipper has not been selected for June's qualifiers after injury problems restricted his playing time after the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Black Stars were beaten semi-finalists earlier this year, losing out to eventual champions Zambia - who they face in Ndola next month - with Sudan making up Group D.

Meanwhile, the 27-year-old has expressed a firm desire to remain at AC Milan following a successful loan spell with the Italian giants.

Muntari joined Milan on loan from city rivals Inter after this year's Nations Cup and quickly settled in at the club.

He played a key role for the remainder of the season from a central midfield role and contributed three goals in thirteen games as Milan narrowly surrendered their Serie A title to Juventus.

It marked a major turnaround in the fortunes of Muntari who had become surplus to requirements at Inter Milan.

Muntari's form had dipped so badly that few gave him any chance of playing regularly at AC Milan but he says he always believed in himself.

"I was not surprised. The whole year I dedicated myself for that occasion," he said.

"I was at Inter and was not getting the time to play even though I trained with 100 per cent commitment.

"I would like to stay with AC because it is a big club, one of the biggest in the world. It is amazing.

"Seeing Milanelo (AC Milan training complex) is another major boost for myself so why not?"

Muntari's contract with Inter expires in the off-season, meaning his future is unclear at present.

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