RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah warned his team Sunday not to become obsessed with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of their World Cup game — then called him the best player "in the whole world."
Ghana plays Portugal in the last round of games in Group G, which has been left open by the West Africans' 2-2 draw with Germany on Saturday. The United States plays Portugal on Sunday then Germany last.
For Ghana, the point against the Germans has given it renewed hope of squeezing through to the last 16 if it beats Portugal and other results are helpful. Ghana has made the knockout stage in both its previous World Cups, but needs to overcome Ronaldo and Portugal in Brasilia on Thursday to have a chance of keeping that record going.
Despite Appiah warning that his players need to avoid an "obsession" with Ronaldo, he heaped praise on the Portugal forward.
"He's the best player in the whole world," Appiah said of the Real Madrid forward and Portugal captain. "Everyone recognizes that. But it's about teamwork. It's important that we don't allow him to play his game."
Appiah added that "you can only stop Cristiano Ronaldo ... by working as a team. We can't let him show what he can do."
The world player of the year came to the World Cup under an injury cloud following troublesome left leg problems at the end of the European season, and has been struggling with tendinitis in his left knee in Brazil. He has regularly trained with strapping on the knee and was subdued in Portugal's heavy 4-0 defeat to Germany in its opener.
Germany tops Group G with four points, followed by the U.S. with three, Ghana with one and Portugal zero.