Ghana's Thomas Partey says 'quality not enough' to win Afcon

By Rahman OsmanFootball Writer
Ghana and Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey
Ghana and Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey is aiming for success at the Africa Cup of Nations finals

Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey says Ghana will have to be united if they are to win the Africa Cup of Nations.

The 25-year-old midfielder was not even born when Ghana last won the competition in Libya 1982.

Since then they have been to three finals and this year in Egypt they are in a group alongside holders Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau and Benin.

"To win a tournament like Afcon sometimes quality alone is not enough," he told BBC Sport.

"We have to be able to sacrifice and go the extra mile and with that and a little bit of luck I am sure we will emerge victorious.

"Unity and working for each other will be vital, because we have got the quality of players already so we all have to be on the same page.

"This will be my second major tournament with the team, so it's hard to tell what has been wrong in the past but we need to be united."

Ghana's most recent final appearance was in 2015 as they lost on penalties to Ivory Coast.

Partey plays at the highest level with his Spanish club Atletico Madrid but there are concerns among fans that he does not replicate that form when he plays for the Black Stars.

"Obviously at club level you train with the same players every day and this is Europe so the facilities and pitches are better," he explains.

"But for me it's always the same - I like playing and everything I have earned is through this sport - so whether at club level or international level once I am on the pitch I give my very best."

He has been a key man for Atletico coach Diego Simeone this season, playing 42 times in all competitions this season and helping them to finish as runners-up in La Liga behind Barcelona but ahead of local rivals Real Madrid.

Atleltico also beat Real Madrid to win the European Super Cup last August.

Just happy to play

Thomas Partey in action for Ghana at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations
Thomas Partey played for Ghana at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon

His performances have reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal but has so far remained loyal to his mentor Simeone.

"It's hard for me to talk about transfers because the next minute it will be like 'Thomas is trying to leave' but for me playing football is what makes me happy," he explained.

"I keep saying I am lucky to be at this level now because I know people who play harder and worker harder than me but are nowhere close to being here.

"I don't know what the future holds for me but as long as I play and they are happy with me here then there is no need flirting with others.

"So the only thing that would make me unhappy will be not playing. I think most footballers can understand that not playing is the greatest torture any professional footballer can go through."

Thomas also paid tribute to his upbringing in Ghana.

"I will tell you, it's not about me feeling comfortable at Atletico it's just the values instilled in me by my parents," he continued.

"The club has been like a second home to me and everything I am now it's partly because they took a chance on me.

"Don't get me wrong I have had to earn it but there are a lot people on the streets of Accra working hard every day hoping for a club to take a chance on them like they did here for me so I will never be ungrateful and force a move just because of money or fame.

"I know how our work is, today you are here and tomorrow you are gone but I feel naturally when it's time to move I wouldn't have to force it because it will be so clear that my time here is up."

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