Ghana captain Andre Ayew does not think Cristiano Ronaldo’s chaotic departure from Manchester United will affect Portugal during their Group H opening match at the FIFA World Cup Stadium 974 on Thursday as he urged his team to be “courageous”.
Ronaldo parted company by mutual consent on Tuesday, following his harsh comments criticizing the club’s management and coach Eric ten Hag.
However, Ayew said this would not affect Portugal’s focus.
The 32-year-old told reporters: It’s not our problem what’s happening inside the Portuguese team. They (the players) are professionals in the best teams and they will be ready for the World Cup no matter what happens.
Tunisia and Morocco managed to keep up with European teams at the World Cup after draws against Denmark and Croatia respectively, and Ayew said there was nothing stopping Ghana from doing the same or more.
He said: We enter this match and Portugal are the theoretical favourites, but we have to show that what happens on the field is more important (than the nominations). We are playing against a big team with great players, but we believe in ourselves and we will make it very difficult for them.
He continued: Your first match in the tournament will not be decisive, and whatever happens, you have a chance to qualify.
He added: The first match is the one you can play and be brave, and it will be a great reward for us to get something (from the match).
Ayew and his brother Jordan are the only remaining players from the Ghanaian team that lost 2-1 to Portugal in their last group match in 2014 when Ronaldo scored the winning goal ten minutes from time.
“The team has changed a lot,” Ayew said. The game is different and when we played against him in 2014 we had to win by two goals to qualify.
And he continued: It is not the same match or the same moment, it is completely different, but each match has its own reality and we will try to make the time difficult for the opponent.
He continued: We know that surprises can happen in major tournaments, and we just need to be ready. I don’t get nervous or anxious before a match.
And he concluded: I am sure that the pressure will come with the start of the match, and if you do not feel that, then you are not human.