Kingson waits and sweats over Ghana call

WIGAN - With most of his Wigan team-mates already long gone after an energetic end-of-season training session, Richard Kingson walks forlornly from the treatment room towards his car. The Ghana goalkeeper is unsure whether he has a World Cup to look forward to.

Kingson, who will be 32 next month, has not played a competitive match since injuring his thigh at the African Cup of Nations in January when he captained Ghana to the final.

As soon as that healed he injured his shoulder, which he says is now "getting better."

He would normally be Ghana's number one goalkeeper but these are not normal circumstances.

The amiable, quietly-spoken international is hoping he can be in South Africa to face Germany, Serbia and Australia in the group matches, but it may depend on how much faith coach Milovan Rajevac has in Kingson and his fitness.

'REALLY TOUGH'

Kingson was at least included in the initial 30-man squad on May 7, before that list is reduced to 23 players on June 1. Chelsea's Michael Essien is another hoping to be fit in time after a lengthy lay-off.

"Things have been really tough this season as I have not been playing which is difficult for a professional," Kingson told Reuters at Wigan's training ground.

"I should have started training earlier but the shoulder injury has meant that I have had to go very slowly.

"Now I am improving and I expect to be fully fit for the World Cup. I still expect to be Ghana's number one - I am OK and working hard."

Kingson is an important figure for Ghana and is their most capped player in the squad with 75 appearances.

That is ahead of higher profile players such as Essien (51 caps), Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari (52) and defenders John Mensah (62) and John Pantsil (58).

He was voted the reserve goalkeeper in the All-Star Team at both the 2008 and 2010 African Cup of Nations tournaments. He also has previous World Cup experience and he believes this should help his cause in making it to the Finals.

"The coach has rung me to ask me how I'm doing and I told him," Kingson said. "There is nothing I can do about my lack of football. Now the (English) season is over, I have to concentrate on the World Cup.

"There is nothing for me to show or prove as I was there last time in 2006 in Germany and everyone saw me. I have no doubts about my ability or my fitness."

It is handy Kingson has self-belief for he has needed it with the tough three years he has had in England at Wigan, and Birmingham City beforehand - playing just four league games.

In an attack on departing manager Steve Bruce and the quality of his signings, then Birmingham co-owner David Sullivan labelled Kingson "a complete waste of space".

Kingson replied with dignity. The goalkeeper's Wigan contract expires at the end of this month and he does not yet know where his future lies.

Previously, Kingson played in Turkey for the best part of a decade and represented six clubs. He even adopted Turkish citizenship and a local name of Faruk Gursoy.

He may not be sure about his long-term future but he knows where he wants to play his immediate football - South Africa, and in Ghana's first group match against Serbia on June 13 - Kingson's birthday.

"The World Cup is a special event for us to enjoy and it will be very special to have this tournament in Africa," Kingson added.

"The Cup of Nations is always colourful and different from the European Championships or the World Cup, but everyone wants to play in the World Cup.

"We are confident about getting through the group because we now have the experience of a World Cup.

"Last time everyone was wondering what it was going to be like because it was our first one but after the opening match against Italy, we relaxed and played our normal game and gained a lot of confidence.

"From then until now, the team has played at a high level, so we are feeling good."

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