By DAN KARELL
While fans and the coaching staffs of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Germany, Ghana, and Portugal are fretting at the difficult task ahead, many of the players likely to be involved have expressed excitement.
Ghanian and Schalke 04 midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng started the ball rolling right after the draw was completed by tweeting a picture of his brother, Jerome, and revealing his excitement to play Jerome and the German National Team.
In the coming hours, other reactions poured in from around the world from players such as Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Bendikt Höwedes, Asamoah Gyan, and even legends such as Luis Figo.
See what the players had to say after the jump:
Captain forward Asamoah Gyan – “Ghana’s group is the toughest. It is the group of death,” he told Accra-based Asempa FM Sports. “But we have a good team to compete with any team. There is no need to fear Germany or Portugal or even the USA. Ghanaians should relax, we’ll qualify from the group and make Ghana proud again.There is teamwork and coordination amongst us [Black Stars] so we’ll work hard and do well at the World Cup.”
Midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng – “It’s my dream,” Boateng told Sport Bild. “It is evident that wishes can still come true. I am looking forward to the duel and the next game against my brother at a World Cup. Even the game against my teammate Jermaine Jones is just great. ”
Midfielder Mesut Ozil – “We are going to Brazil with the aim of winning the tournament,” Ozil told the Guardian. “We will have to play some good teams anyway so if we play them early on or later, it doesn’t really matter. We have to beat them all.”
Midfielder Mario Götze – “Is a very interesting group that we want to survive, of course, successfully,” Götze told SportBild. “The anticipation of the World Cup in Brazil has increased with the draw once more.”
Defender Bendikt Höwedes – “It’s an interesting and evenly-matched group,” Howedes told the Bundesliga’s official website. “I think all four teams have a chance of going through. The clash with Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng is doing to be particularly special.”
Defender Marcel Schmelzer – “It’s an interesting group if you look at the teams we’ll be playing,” Schmelzer told the Bundesliga’s official website. “Every team is beatable, and it’s not the hardest group there.”
Former midfielder Luis Figo – “The strongest teams in the world are in this competition and it is always difficult to face our opponents. We already knew that we would be going in against theoretically stronger team, in this case Germany, but it is good to start against them,” Figo told Desporto. “Everybody knows the quality of the German team, but we have been happy in recent clashes and hopefully we can have another positive result.”
Forward Hugo Almeida – “It’s a difficult group, no doubt,” Almeida told Record. “There are three very strong teams and we start with one of the candidates for the title and which seeks a few years ago to be champion.It will not to be easy to pass this group. Playing against theoretically stronger team on the first day (Germany) has its advantages and disadvantages. It is a strong opponent, but if we win lifts our morale and if we lose, it’s a little bit lower.”
USMNT (Quotes from U.S. Soccer)
Goalkeeper Tim Howard – “I think it’s an extremely tough group, which we expected, but the fact that it’s tough does not mean that we can’t advance through the group. I think we can. We’ll have to play at our best but I think we can. I think the memory will still be very fresh of the loss (to Ghana) in the Round of 16 in 2010. I think that will help us more than it will them. We’re a much stronger team than we were, and they’ll know that going into the game. We’ll look to set that result right.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley – “Group of Death. When you look closer, four teams that in the last World Cup in 2010 all got out of their group. On our end, we know that we’re going to be tested at the highest level every minute of every game, but you don’t go to the World Cup expecting any easy games. On our end, now we’re excited to know who we play, when we play and where we play. We’ll use the time leading up to the World Cup to make sure we’re ready to go on June 16.”
Defender DaMarcus Beasley – “When we go to Russia, when we got to Austria, when we got Italy and we play those types of teams – Jurgen (Klinsmann) wants to throw us in the deep end and see how we do. Those types of games get us ready for the type of games we’re going to be playing in the World Cup. This team has a good mix of youth and experience, so we’re excited. The team that is selected to go to Brazil will do the job to try to get out of the group.”
Defender Steve Cherundolo – It is a very tough group with many familiar faces,” Cherundolo told German media. “We need three top performances to get ahead. I would be very happy to be there.”
Forward Clint Dempsey – “It’s going to be a difficult group, and there are a lot of other difficult groups as well. There’s excitement amongst our team because we have a good group of guys. And this is what the World Cup’s about, playing the best teams. The trick is to get off to a good start, try to get out of the group and then see what happens.”
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan – “It’s nice to hopefully get some revenge against Ghana. We play them in the first game, and in the last couple of World Cups they’ve been the team that knocked us out. So to get some revenge against them would be a nice start to the tournament. Then we play two very good European teams in Germany and Portugal. Playing against one of the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo is something that every player looks forward to.”
Midfielder Jermaine Jones – “That’s a tough group, where the pressure is situated on Portugal and Germany,” Jones told the DFB. “The fact that we play against Germany, is great, because that’s the country where I was born. On the game against Ghana with my friend Prince I also am very pleased.”
Forward Eddie Johnson – “The hard part is getting to the World Cup, and that’s something that we have done already. Once you qualify for the World Cup – and, we’re talking about the biggest sporting event in the world – I think it’s anyone’s opportunity to lift the trophy and be considered the best country in the world. Unfortunately we got some really good countries that have some unbelievable players and good experience. At the end of the day, you want to play against the best. We couldn’t have a better opportunity than to play against such amazing countries as Ghana, Portugal and Germany.”
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan – “It’s exciting. It’s going to be three tough games, but it’s the World Cup. It’s what you go through qualifying for and it’s what you work for. It’s the biggest tournament in the world, so to be able to represent your country at a World Cup regardless of who you play, it’s exciting. As players, when you see your country pulled into group it becomes all that more real and you can start slowly preparing for it.”