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Essien hopes to appease Ghana fans

Ghana star Michael Essien is hoping to get a positive reception from Black Stars fans when he returns to the national-team for their African Nations Cup qualifier against Congo.

Essien, 28, will end his self-imposed international exile when he lines up for Goran Stevanovic's side next month, as they look to cement their place at the top of qualifying Group I for the 2012 Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

His decision to focus on club football for Chelsea and not play for the Black Stars was not well received by many of Ghana's supporters, but Essien hopes that will all be forgiven when he makes his return.

"I had a very bad injury and it could have ended my career and I thank God I am back on my feet. I have my form back now and hopefully I will have a good reception coming into the national team again," Essien said. "Seriously I have no idea how it will go but the good thing is that I'm ready to come back to the national team and help my country.

"I know my break did not down well with certain fans but they have to understand my point of view. The injuries I suffered could have ended my career. It's funny when I heard people were arguing I was not coming to play again. I just stay at home and laugh at it."

Essien will further endear himself to Ghanaians this summer, as he has organised a charity match featuring an Africa XI taking on a World XI in Accra on May 25.

Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda are also expected to feature, as well as former AC Milan star George Weah.

"It's time for Africa to stand up and make peace with each other, stop the fighting, put the guns down and love each other," Essien said in the Daily Mail. "We have come up with this game. Hopefully the players will turn up and we can do something to bring peace.

"The biggest names are Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba and the Toure brothers. Ashley Cole is coming down and Florent Malouda. People should expect some world-class players in Ghana."

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