Sulley Muntari: Milan focused on UCL
Sulley Muntari says he is "100% fit" and ready to help the AC Milan reach the group stages of the Champions League.
Finishing third in Serie A behind Juventus and Napoli last season means Milan need to get the better of PSV Eindhoven over two legs if they are to reach the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition.
Failure to do so would not only get the 2013-14 season off on the wrong foot, but it would also prove costly economically. Bearing that in mind, Muntari says he and his team-mates are focusing on these two pivotal games.
"We’re preparing really well," Muntari told Milan Channel. "We’ve got to win them at all costs because they are far too important for us and for our entire season.
"After hitting the crossbar in Miami against LA Galaxy, I hope that the ball goes in against PSV, but it’s not important if I score or somebody else does."
That somebody else could be Nigel de Jong, whose influential presence on the field and knowledge of Dutch football, given his formative years with Ajax, could be beneficial.
Both combative midfielders are vying for a place in the side, but Muntari says De Jong, who is back in action and impressing in pre-season after rupturing his Achilles tendon last December, should be one of the first names on Massimiliano Allegri’s team sheet.
"His return is very important. Very," Muntari added. "He is a rock in front of the defence. We’ve got plenty of good midfielders, but if we talk about De Jong, then I’d say he’s one who recovers the ball and passes it well. For me, Nigel is an absolute leader in every aspect."
There is even greater competition for places in the Milan midfield this season with the arrival of Andrea Poli from Sampdoria. Although he too will be Muntari’s rival for a place in Allegri’s starting XI, the Ghanaian had plenty of praise for the Italy international.
"Andrea was a leader at Sampdoria and, even if things are different at Milan, he’s going to do well here," Muntari said. "He’s settling in well and he’s a good player."