MILAN - Ghana's Sulley Muntari has predicted African teams will prosper in the World Cup despite "bad organisation" and hopes to increase the continent's future prospects with help from his beauty queen girlfriend.
The Inter Milan midfielder, set to be in South Africa for the June 11-July 11 tournament despite a strained relationship with the Ghana team, said Africa is ready for a breakthrough.
"African football is growing faster because we have great players that are playing in great clubs in Europe so it's going to be a good tournament because now we have so much confidence in ourselves and Africa," the 25-year-old told Reuters.
"Everything is possible. If not us maybe Ivory Coast, Nigeria... Cameroon because they have so much experience. Four years ago (in Germany) we were there. We know how it is and what it is all about. We will do well."
Muntari missed this year's African Nations Cup after being dropped for disciplinary reasons as African teams continue to struggle to be totally professional in their approach.
"We Africans have a different mentality, we always want to win. Maybe sometimes the organisation is bad that is the only thing," he smiled.
Muntari recently starred in a film called "Football Fables", which portrays the challenges of young African football talent trying to make it on to the European stage.
The former Udinese and Portsmouth midfield general was forced to come to Italy as an unassuming 17-year-old to pursue his dream but now believes the situation has changed.
"There are a lot of facilities that they have in Africa so my advice is that players stay a little bit there and get more experience. Then they will come to Europe and perform well," added Muntari, still shy despite sporting a diamond-encrusted watch.
"You can see from the South African league which I think is one of the top leagues in Africa. You see most of their players, they don't come to Europe when they are younger."
Sat in a swanky office on Milan's main fashion strip, Muntari is flanked by his partner Menaye Donkor.
She holds the distinction of being Miss Ghana Universe 2004 but defies the usual image of a football player's girlfriend.
A graduate in marketing from a Toronto University, the Ghanaian is also trying her best to help Africa by running a charity which bears her name.
"I have worked with children affected with HIV/AIDS. What we do is we raise funds basically assisting with food and medicine, school supplies and everything," she said.
"The other project I am working on is the mini-international school. It is a school that is located in the central region of Ghana where there are basically about 200 children."
Fundraising in New York has raised her glamorous profile but she will travel as a normal fan to cheer on Muntari in South Africa against Group D rivals Germany, Australia and Serbia.
"We are pretty much very simple people," she laughed.
"He is a very down-to-earth person so I don't find it as a threat, you know every morning thinking 'oh my God I am going out with this soccer player', we are just very normal people."comments