World Cup 2010 Exclusive: Germany's Michael Ballack And Ghana's Michael Essien Motivate Sydney FC's Kofi Danning To Get To South Africa

Jsaon Cohn caught up with the starlet to talk South Africa at the SFS.
Sydney FC's teen prodigy Kofi Danning is all smiles; the prospect of facing Michael Ballack and Michael Essien at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is motivating the rising star.

Some tout the 18-year-old as the future of the Aussie game.

His pace and eye for goal has garnered some media attention in the wake of a void in the goal-scoring department on the national level.

For now though, Danning is content following the Socceroos to the World Cup next year as a fan.

After Australia drew Germany, Serbia and his birth-country Ghana in Group D, Kofi is hoping for a peaceful end between the two countries he holds dear.

“I hope [Ghana vs Australia] is a draw, and then they both get through, but Germany is just so strong," Danning told

A diplomatic answer from a player so popular with his home fans it makes it hard for him to finish a sentence without being swamped with praise from die-hard supporters.

Tired after making a late cameo in Sydney’s 4-1 thrashing of North Queensland Fury, Kofi spent the first half hour of his post-match celebrations signing autographs for kids and happily receiving pats on the back.

“I try not to let it get to me,” he grins. “I just want to be myself.”

“I also like making people happy, so why not sign some stuff for them?”

How could you not like this guy?

Out of the superstars in Group D, Germany’s Bastien Schweinsteiger remains his favourite player.

The thought of facing the likes of Chelsea playmakers Michael Ballack and Michael Essien has left the youngster with a sense of motivation and inspiration, but the biggest challenge that Danning could face would be toughing it out against Manchester United hard-man Nemanja Vidic.

“He’s just so strong, so powerful. It would be intense.”

The chances of Kofi making it into Pim Verbeek’s 23-man squad are decent, although he’s not expecting much playing time in front of in-favour Josh Kennedy, Scott McDonald and of course Harry Kewell.

“I haven’t heard anything from Pim, but if I did go it would probably be just to train and watch, which would still be the experience of a lifetime," Danning continued.

Nominated for the A-League Young Player of the Year award, the perennially cheerful Danning certainly has a bright future ahead.

Considering he realistically has four World Cups look forward to, why wouldn’t he be happy?

 Jason Cohn,

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