Portugal vs Ghana match preview: Pepe hoping for a 'miracle' as defender returns from red card shame in last-ditch attempt to salvage Portugal's World Cup
Pepe was sent-off in the 4-0 defeat to Germany, who must do the Portuguese a favour and beat the USA if they are to have any chance of qualification
Thursday 26 June 2014
He could never be mistaken for a footballing romantic but Portugal defender Pepe insists he believes in miracles as his country prepare for their must-win final Group G fixture against Ghana.
Portugal meet Ghana in Brasilia today with each side needing victory – and in Portugal’s case a massive goal swing – if they are to have any chance of snatching second place in the section.
Their Group G rivals Germany and USA – who meet in Recife – each have four points with Ghana and Portugal on one point apiece, and Paulo Bento’s Portuguese are further handicapped by a goal difference of minus five.
Yet Real Madrid centre-back Pepe, back from a one-game suspension after his red card in the 4-0 defeat against Germany, said: “I believe in miracles. It is possible, we know it is difficult but we have to fight. This is a watchword for Portugal – to fight till the end.”
A big victory is asking a lot of a Portugal side who have won only one of their last nine World Cup matches – excluding penalty shootouts – and require a favourable result between Germany and USA too. Coach Paulo Bento said: “We have to win and then we will see. We have a match to play, the United States and Germany have a match to play. We must choose a strategy against a team [Ghana] that is technically advanced, physically very strong, with players that are fast on the counter-attack, a team that is going to get involved and try to qualify."
The Ghanaians’ own preparations for the match took a farcical turn when coach Kwesi Appiah confirmed reports that an aircraft had been specifically chartered by the authorities in Accra to fly over World Cup appearance money owing to the Black Stars squad.
“These things are normally sorted out before the competition,” said Appiah. “At this stage of the competition it’s difficult. You can’t keep telling the players the money will come, the money will come.” The sum is reported to be in the region of £1.8m.
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