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Football

Alexander Djiku reminisces Ghana’s historic World Cup campaign

GHANA

Ghana defender Alexander Djiku discusses idolising the 2010 Black Stars, reaching World Cup 26 and Otto Addo’s “unmatched” man-management.

  • Alexander Djiku spoke to FIFA in a wide-ranging interview
  • The centre-back wants Ghana to show the spirit of the 2010 side
  • Black Stars aiming for Group I’s summit in FIFA World Cup 26 qualifying

In June 2010, an ambitious 16-year-old boy in the south of France was just starting off his career in professional football with Castelnau-Le Cres, his local club. Thousands of miles away, South Africa was abuzz with excitement as the first-ever FIFA World Cup™ to be held on African soil had just got going.

The teenager in question, Alexander Djiku, happened to be of Ghanaian descent, and much like the rest of the world, his eyes were trained on events in Africa, and in particular the impressive and heroic Black Stars side that reached the quarter-finals of the tournament.

“I didn’t miss one game during that amazing run,” said the-now 29-year-old “At national camps I rub shoulders with Andre Ayew, who was part of that team. Sometimes I still find it hard to believe how I got here, but I don’t spend too much time thinking about it and try to enjoy every moment with the squad, because it truly is an honour to be part of the Black Stars.”

Fourteen years have gone by since South Africa 2010 entertained football fans all over the globe with its colourful atmosphere and non-stop vuvuzelas. But while the raucous cheering has long since faded away, the memorable competition remains fresh in the mind of many Ghana fans for the way it raised hopes and expectations in the country.

Their iconic side from that era, featuring John Mensah, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Asamoah Gyan and more, certainly made its mark, putting in the country’s best-ever performance at a World Cup. Today, their successors, including Montpellier-born Djiku, are doing their utmost to bring about a return to those halcyon days.

However, the relationship between the former Bastia player and the national team took time to flourish, with Djiku having to wait until 2020 to make his international debut. “I wanted to really establish myself at club level before thinking about the national side,” he admitted. “I knew that one day it would come together – I never doubted it, even though it took a few years to happen.”

The defender, who has now won 28 caps for his nation, got a first taste of the World Cup at Qatar 2022. “There’s nothing better; it’s just the greatest competition ever,” he said. “I don’t like talking about the past. Now we have to look to the future and get through our matches in this World Cup qualifying campaign.”

FIFA World Cup 26 is certainly the Ghanaians’ principal preoccupation right now. 20 years after their maiden appearance in Germany, they have their sights firmly set on playing a starring role in North America in just over two years time.

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