Ghana, the black stars were brimming in confidence as they qualified for the Brazil 2014 world cup and were expecting some major achievements. Those expectations have been tamed slightly after the black stars were drawn in Group G alongside three-time champions Germany, Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, and a Jurgen Klinsmann-led United States, whom Ghana defeated in both the 2006 and 2010 editions. Yet, Ghana, boasting the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan in their ranks, will harbor ambitions of causing an upset of similar proportions to their journey into the quarter-finals in South Africa four years ago.
Ghana topped their qualifying group, which included 2012 African Cup of Nations champions Zambia, with five wins out of six games. They eventually booked their flight to Brazil by dismantling much-fancied Egypt 7-3 on aggregate, including a 6-1 home victory.
Current coach James Kwesi Appiah took over the reins of the national team in 2012, and became the first black African coach to take Ghana to the World Cup finals.
World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars).
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Jerry Akaminko (Kisehirspor), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan).
Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux), David Accam (Helsingborg).
Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
James Kwesi Appiah, also known as Akwasi Appiah, has made big strides in his short managerial career so far, after a playing career which spanned ten years. A left-back by trade, Appiah played for his country between 1987 and 1992, appearing in two world cup qualifying matches. Since then, Manchester City have given Appiah training towards becoming a coach, and he made use of that knowledge during his stint as Ghana’s assistant manager between 2007 and 2012, a period in which he also guided Ghana’s Under 23 side to All-Africa Games glory.
Apiah’s adopted formation 4-2-3-1 system, adding flair to the team and providing more opportunities to score. Crucial in his game plan are Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien, who will anchor the midfield and protect the back four. In the play maker role Appiah will deploy Kevin–Prince Boateng, who is expected to form a fearsome partnership with lone striker Asamoah Gyan
Players to Watch
It’s never dull when former Tottenham Hotspur man Kevin-Prince Boateng is on the field, and the tattooed technician is sure to play a key role in Ghana’s 2014 world cup campaign. Despite being cleared to play for Ghana prior to the 2010 World Cup, the 26-year old has only represented his adopted nation 10 times, after emerging through the German youth ranks up until he was 22. Boateng’s brother, Jerome, plays for Germany, and the pair made history in 2010 when they played against each other during the world cup group stages, the first instance of brothers playing on opposing sides in an international fixture. Kevin-Prince has described the group stages as the draw of his 'dreams'.
Asamoah Gyan is another player who may shine at Brazil. The 28 year old striker is the captain of the black stars. He has represented his country in 78 internationals since he first played at 17. He scored 39 goals including four in eight world finals appearance. He was also the top scorer of the qualifying matches with six to his credit. He is a spot kick specialist and take most of the penalty kicks for his team.
Michael Essien actually retired from international but his scintillating display of creative football in the midfield in the 6-1 drubbing of Egypt caused his welcome back in the team.
Majeed Waris is a stoky pacy striker. He scored three goals in qualifying matches. He was let out on loan from his Russian Club Spartak Moscow to French Club Valenciennes.
Monday, June 16, 2014 v United States (23:00 GMT in Arena das Dunas, Natal)
Saturday, June 21, 2014 v Germany (20:00 GMT in EstadioCastelao, Fortaleza)
Thursday, June 26, 2014 v Portugal (17:00 GMT in Estadio Nacional, Brasilia)
Black stars may die in group of death
Ghana's slim hopes of progressing from a difficult group that includes Germany, Portugal and the USA are likely to hinge on the trio of Essien, Gyan and Muntari, as well as Marseille's André Ayew. They will however make a small piece of history as Kwesi Appiah will become the first Ghanaian coach to lead his country at a World Cup.
Some groups in world draw emerged as relatively easier groups and some others are groups of death. Unfortunately Ghana is pooled in one of the group of deaths. Germany and Portugal both possess an array of world-class talents, and will be the nailed on favorites to progress into the knockout stages.
Ghana can only try its best to beat United States and steal a point off one, if not both, of the big guns. For that to happen, current top scorer Gyan will need to be at his scintillating best, and Boateng shall need to raise his game on the big stage. Ghana, though, look set to bow out at the first hurdle.