Dujkovic Prepares for the Worst

4 February 2006 at 04:03 | 1261 views

By Martin Davies

BBC Sport, Ismailia

Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic has prepared himself for fierce criticism after his team’s early exit from the African Cup of Nations.

The West African side, which will be making their debut at this summer’s World Cup finals, were knocked out of the tournament after a surprising 2-1 loss to Zimbabwe in their final Group D match on Tuesday.

"I have to accept criticism because this is part of the job," Dujkovic told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

"When we win everyone says nice things about us but people are angry when we lose."

Losing 1-0 to Nigeria in their opening group game, Ghana put themselves back into contention with a 1-0 win over Senegal in their second match.

A draw against Zimbabwe would have taken the Black Stars to the quarter-finals but Dujkovic is aware that the unexpected defeat and elimination from the tournament will lead to calls for his dismissal.

"I am not worried, we coaches always have our luggage ready to go."

The Serbian coach is expected to be debriefed by officials of the Ghana Football Association on the team’s return to Accra.

"I have to see what will happen there," Dujkovic said.

Having worked in Asia, Latin America and his native Yugoslavia before taking Rwanda to the 2004 Nations Cup finals, he is aware of the sort of feelings that run high when a team performs beneath expectation.

But the Serbian coach argued that the absence of key players like Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari from the tournament left him with few options, after Laryea Kingston recieved a four-match ban and striker Matthew Amoah picked up an injury.

Dujkovic hopes he will be allowed to take the team to the World Cup finals despite the team’s first-round exit in Egypt.

"Without me they never qualified for the World Cup. They contracted me to qualify for the World Cup and I did it. This competition is something different."

Photo: Ratomir Dujkovic, coach of the Ghana national soccer team, the Black Stars