Ghana's dreammaker: Abdul Majeed Waris
Abdul Majeed Waris is on the verge of of fulfilling every footballer's dream.
"It's a great feeling to know you have a chance of qualifying for the World Cup," he told me.
He is taking nothing for granted, even though Ghana go into the second leg of their play off against Egypt with a 6-1 lead: "I'm not really thinking about Brazil until the last game has been played."
Abdul will be hoping to be in the starting lineup, having scored one goal and been involved in two others, in the emphatic victory in Kumasi. He also scored in Ghana's previous two World Cup qualifiers against Zambia and Sudan. Furthermore his strike partnership with Asamoah Gyan, one of Ghana's heroes at the last World Cup, is already flourishing.
This impressive start in international football is the latest chapter in the remarkable story of the Spartak Moscow player, which started in Accra at the Right to Dream Academy.
According to Abdul, the academy, run by former Manchester United coach Tom Vernon, had a "great impact" on him. He is now one in a long line of young, underprivileged Ghanians to have benefitted from its program comprising football, academic schooling and personal development.
"The Academy gave me the opportunity to develop my education, my skill and attitude in general," he explained.
With this grounding, he left Ghana to attend Hartpury FE College in Gloucestershire, before gaining a place at the prestigious Nike Academy for unsigned players, in addition to a place on the English Colleges team.
His first professional contract came with a move in 2010 to BK Häcken in the Swedish top flight.
"My time in England was really good...Sweden was a bit different because that was the time I started living as a full-time professional and understanding how hard you had to work everyday."
This hard work paid off during his third season (2012) in which he scored 25 goals in 30 appearances, including 5 in one match. This form earned him a move to Spartak Moscow later in the year.
Life in Russia is proving a little tougher to date with the goals harder to come by. Still only 22, he is, however, experienced enough now to trust his own ability and remain positive.
"Everything is Ok. Not all how I wanted but I've just got to work really hard."
Abdul's obvious work ethic will stand him in good stead in Cairo on November 19th, when, alongside his teammates, he attempts to complete the journey from the dust pitches of Accra to the stadiums of Brazil.
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