Alexander Djiku (Ghana): “It’s something big”

It’s an inevitably happy Alexander Djiku that we found following Ghana’s win over South Korea (3-2) this Monday afternoon. Four days after the opening defeat against Portugal (2:3), the central defender from Strasbourg and the Black Stars (28) is thus qualifying for the round of 16 of his first World Cup. He tells it from the inside.

“How did you experience this meeting, a little crazy?
It was a game of twists and turns. They made a good first 15 minutes in which they could have materialized. We weren’t there, but we made it. We knew it would have been difficult going forward if we hadn’t won. We have to appreciate the spirit of this group, we were all united, we didn’t put our heads down and after equalizing we managed to score that 3rd goal which does us good. In the last few minutes we put the bus in front of the surface to keep the score (smile).

How do you get into a match like that with a central defense that suddenly goes to three?
The instructions were clear to keep this goal upfront. We had to defend ourselves body and soul, which we managed well. It’s a matter of focus making the right moves at the right time. I think everyone got into the game well. It really is a group victory. We all gave everything to stay alive and have one last game to qualify.

“We have to scrap what isn’t going so well, especially the start of the game”

It’s a final now. Uruguay, are you already thinking about it?
We’re missing a point. We’re going to celebrate (Monday) evening, but we must remobilize tomorrow. We need to erase what isn’t going so well, especially the beginning of the game. You have to relax, keep a cool head. We know there is a little rivalry between the two teams since they eliminated us a few years ago. (World Cup Quarterfinals 2010). We can count on that to mobilize everyone. So there will be a lot of engagement.

They started in a five-man defense in the first game and replaced with a four-man defense in the second game…
The coach approached me before the game, he told me that it couldn’t be compared at all to my performance against Portugal. He has to make decisions. We are 5 central defenders for 2 or 3 positions. But he knows my state of mind and whether I’m a starter or a substitute, I always give my all.

Don’t you feel you started too late against Portugal, especially with that surprising five-point defence?
No, it was the coach’s order. We’re dealing with a team that has great individuality and likes to play deep. We had to have a big defensive block with tight lines. We did well, for an hour before that somewhat controversial penalty I think. We then attacked and maybe we saw each other a bit too well because we suddenly left some space behind our backs. This is how they scored their other two goals. There was a bit of regret, but we didn’t let go. As today. And today we were rewarded.

What were the words of your captain André Ayew before this game?
Yesterday (Sunday), he told us to remember everything we had done from the start. It’s not just three World Cup games. Before that there were qualifications, playoffs, tough matches. We’ve come a long way and had to rely on those encounters to stay focused and give it our all.

“I live these moments with a lot of emotion, but also a lot of rest because you don’t have to let yourself be overwhelmed”

Can you tell us something about the state of mind of this group? We saw you dancing after the final whistle…
Before the games we arrive dancing and singing, which doesn’t mean that we’re unfocused. It’s a culture, it changes other countries.

How are you living this World Cup from the inside out?
This is a dream. Every player dreams of playing in a World Cup. I had a chance to start the first game to get into the game in the second. I live these moments with a lot of emotion, but also a lot of rest, because you can’t let emotions overwhelm you. You have to stay calm, calm in mind.

Is the level higher than anything you’ve experienced before?
Yes. It really comes down to the details. You forget one little thing and it counts. I watch all the games and I get the impression that the ones who want the most and have the most courage get there. We’re fighting for a country, it’s something big. If we do it from the heart, something beautiful will come out of it in the end. »

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