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June 22, 2006   

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Stars out of Africa

Despite being plagued by war, hunger and strife, the Africans love their football. And it shows. You can scoff at their international standings, but you can never take an African football side for granted -- remember Roger Milla's Cameroon?

This World Cup has given the football globe its share of African stars. A quick look at a few:

Stephen Appiah, Ghana

The 26-year-old Appiah is the nerve centre of a team that has stunned many -- the Czech Republic included -- with its speed and spirit in its maiden World Cup appearance.

The Black Star -- that's what Ghana are called -- captain made his national debut at age 16, after dazzling in three junior world championships, including as part of the FIFA Under-17 World Chamiponship-winning side way back in 1995!

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Appiah, an attacking midfielder who started out as a striker, has played in Italian clubs like Parma and Juventus (who paid 6 million euros for him).

Now, he plays for Turkish club Fenerbahce, but at the moment you can be sure he has his eyes fixed on making life miserable for the big guns of world football in the sport's biggest battlefield.

Image: Appiah works out under the watchful eye of Ratomir Dujkovic, the Serbian coach of the Ghanaian team.

Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

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