Ghana depleted ahead of Sudan clash

NAIVASHA, Kenya - Four-times Africa champions Ghana have lost four top players as they prepare in Kenya for Saturday's 2010 World Cup qualifier against Sudan.

Veteran skipper Stephen Appiah, Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari, Fulham's John Pantsil and Baffour Gyan of Russia's FC Saturn are all out of the Group D encounter in Omdurman.

Panstill was suspended for accruing two yellow cards, while the rest are nursing injuries.

"We desperately want to qualify for the World Cup for the second time and we can't afford any slip-ups," said Serbian coach Milovan Rajevak in the Rift Valley provincial town of Naivasha.

Ghana's Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan, Lyon defender John Mensah, goalkeeper Richard Kingston of Wigan Athletic and Zamalek's striker Junior Agogo are all in the team who beat Mali 2-0 two weeks ago.

Their training sessions in Naivasha's Oserian Flowers ground have attracted a huge Kenyan crowd seeking a glimpse of Essien.

"We won't be carried away by that victory in Mali because we regard all teams are strong at this level," Rajevak told reporters.

"It is every team's dream to appear at the World Cup and although we have six points so far, we still can't take things for granted."

Ghana currently lead Group D with six points from two matches.