black stars keep faith

GHANA captain John Mensah says religious faith has been key to his side's brilliant performances at the 2010 World Cup.

GHANA captain John Mensah says religious faith has been key to his side's brilliant performances at the 2010 World Cup.

Ghana defeated Serbia 1-0 and drew 1-1 with Australia, meaning a draw against Germany today could see them through to the round of 16.

With four points from two games, they are the best-performing African nation in the tournament.

The Black Stars' strength has been the coherence of their midfield play and their unity, with players praying together at the end of training, and even as they left the pitch before half-time in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Australia.

"We just pray to God before we go out," Mensah told the German Press Agency DPA.

"We are Christians and we all know how important God is.

"We all respect God and we pray every time, both before and after the game."

The joy those prayer session bring is obvious to anybody who attends their training sessions.

"We Black Stars are used to singing," Mensah said.

"After training we sing together. Not always, but definitely on the day before the game.

"We praise God, what he has done for us.

"Then the next day is match day, so we use that opportunity to give us strength and help us go on into the game."

It is religious faith, Mensah believes, that has enabled Ghana's young squad to stay grounded and focused.

Ghana's Under-20 squad won the World Youth Cup in Egypt last year, and many of them were involved in the senior team that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January.

Dede Ayew, Jonathan Mensah and Kwadwo Asamoah all played in that Under-20 side and in the 1-1 draw with Australia on Saturday.

The Lyon defender, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland, had particular praise for his namesake, Jonathan Mensah, who took his place.

"He did well," Mensah said.

"Once we are together, we speak together, watch ourselves in training - everything we do we do together, so he has a lot of experience from us."

Mensah senior missed the Australia game as a precaution because of a back injury, but he should return to face Germany.

l See the Let's Go 2010 supplement for reviews of Bafana Bafana vs France and Uruguay vs Mexico matches, as well as other related stories. - Sapa-DPA

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