Ghana captain Thomas Partey frustrated by World Cup miss
Thomas Partey admits it will be tough watching the 2018 FIFA World Cup on television, but he insists Ghana are getting over the disappointment of failing to reach Russia 2018.
The Atletico Madrid midfielder has become a major player for the Black Stars in recent times, including scoring five goals in his last four appearances, while also captaining the side in their last win over Japan last week.
He is likely to lead the side out again for a friendly against Iceland on Thursday, and says the players are determined to prove all is not doom and gloom with the side.
"People think the Black Stars is going down, but for the players we know it is up to us to try to work this out and change that," he tells KweséESPN. "If things work out for this team, it will be for our own good and if it gets bad, it will affect us, so this is really up to us to work hard and change it, and that is what we are doing now."
Partey had hoped he would be preparing for his World Cup bow in Russia, but as he did in the last three tournaments, he will be watching from the comforts of his living room.
"We all think we should have qualified; we all really would have wanted to be going to the World Cup, but that's part of the game. We now have to focus and build a team for the 2019 African Cup of Nations and the next World Cup."
Partey will be central to any such team. The 24-year-old has been emerged as strong leader not just in terms of the symbolic armband, but in the way he has played as well.
In addition to his enhanced role at international level, Partey has consolidated his place as a key member of Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid side. He played 50 games in all competitions this past season as Atletico won the Europa League and finished second behind Barcelona in La Liga.
Partey says his performances are largely thanks to a peptalk from Simeone at the start of the season: "The coach spoke to me and said 'This year we need you; you are going to help us so you just have to stay and work hard, then the opportunities will come'.
"Now our main target is to win the Champions League for this club. All the fans are dying to see the Champions League [trophy]."