Speaking exclusively to Get Football, Strasbourg and Ghana defender Alexander Djiku discussed an array of topics including a potential Round of 16 game against Brazil, playing alongside Mohammed Kudus and the living conditions of migrant construction workers in Qatar plus much more.
GF: Alexander, nice to speak to you. You were a part of the Ghana squad that failed to get out of their group at the 2021 African Cup of Nations, how far has this squad come since then?
AD: “Yes, this team didn’t qualify for the last 16 of the AFCON because our DNA is to play football constantly without trying to draw. But a draw [against Comoros] would have qualified us. Against Uruguay, we will be in the same logic, not to calculate, because it’s not in our DNA to refuse the game.”
Ghana can secure a place in the World Cup knockout stages, what’s the mood like in the camp?
AD: “As we saw with Australia, Morocco and Japan, there are no more small teams. So it’s very interesting for us to fight to the end for a place in the last 16. The atmosphere can only be good [within the camp] when you play at a World Cup.”
GF: You played against Cristiano Ronaldo in Ghana’s first game, was this your first time and how did you find it?
AD: “I played against Cristiano Ronaldo in the first World Cup match. Even if he doesn’t have the legs of a 20-year-old, he’s still a complete striker in great physical shape. He has a capacity to be forgotten and to move well which allows him to score a lot of goals as we can see during this World Cup. He didn’t win five Golden Balls for nothing.”
GF: What difficulties did South Korea pose and what do you expect from Uruguay?
AD: “We had some difficulties against South Korea in the second half where we were too much in control and in command. That almost got us into trouble. Against Uruguay, we expect a very tough match physically and tactically. They can easily change their system. We will have to adapt. They also have a winning culture, a culture of mischief and experience. So we mustn’t be fooled by their emotional management.”
GF: You could potentially play Brazil in the knockout stage, does this motivate you?
AD: “Indeed, we have the possibility of meeting Brazil in the Round of 16. We have already played them in a friendly in Le Havre, France, in September. We have the quality that they have, with or without Neymar. Yes, it motivates, but what motivates even more is to qualify for the Round of 16 no matter who we play.”
GF: And what’s it like playing in the same team as Mohammed Kudus? What’s his personality like?
AD: “Kudus is a very good player. I saw him two years ago when nobody knew him. He is very calm, thoughtful and composed. I think he is revealing himself to the general public. But that the specialists and experts have known for a very long time and that he will have a great career in football.”
GF: How far can this squad go in the World Cup?
AD: “I don’t know where this team can go in the World Cup. We don’t set any limits for ourselves. But we have to take it step by step and it starts with the Uruguay game this afternoon.”
GF: Qatar has rightly come under criticism for its living conditions of both migrant construction workers and fans in accommodation blocks, what’s been your view of it?
AD: “Indeed, Qatar has been criticised for the living conditions of migrant workers, and rightly so. They have tried to work on this as the international committee has brought it to their attention. We still deplore the deaths. So we have to do something about it, whether it’s in Qatar or elsewhere. Whether it’s construction workers, migrants, refugees or people in need, We all remain human. And it is this brotherhood that must unite us so that everyone can have the minimum, whether in terms of rights, dignity and need. We must all learn from our past mistakes to avoid repeating them now and in the future.”
GF: And moving on to domestic football, Strasbourg are down in 19th, why do you think this is?
AD: “The championship is very close, we have lost games that we should never have lost. I hope we can pick up our heads and move forward, because this team has more than enough talent to keep going. They are the same team that finished sixth in Ligue 1 last year.”
GF: Which teams were interested in the summer, what are your plans for the future?
AD: “A lot of teams were interested, but I was looking for a project that would allow me to play the role consistently. Strasbourg also had to come to an agreement with the suitors who wanted to take me on, which wasn’t always easy.”
GF: Would the Bundesliga be an option for you?
AD: “The Bundesliga is a league I like, because it is ambitious and competitive. So yes, when you are competitive it is a league that you can aspire to.”
GF: And lastly, do you have a favourite manager that you’ve worked with?
AD: “I don’t have a favourite manager. They have all brought something to me whether it is tactically, physically, technically, mentally. It’s the combination of all these points that have brought me to this point today, playing in a World Cup.”
GF: Alexander, thank you for your time and we wish you all the best.
Ghana face Uruguay in their final Group H game and can qualify for the last 16 with a win. In the event of a draw, they have to hope that South Korea fail to beat Portugal.
Interview by Daniel Pinder of Get German Football News