World Cup Team Profile - Ghana
Coach: Akwasi Appiah
Captain: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain)
Full Ghana Roster
The Road to Rio: The Black Stars scored a whole lotta goals in their qualification run. When the dust settled, Ghana had piled on 25 total markers over their eight qualifiers. That total was grossly inflated thanks to a 7-0 win over Lesotho in their group opener and a 6-1 thumping of Egypt in the playoff opener.
That said, the road out of the group stage was closer than it might at first appear. The eventual group runners-up from Zambia saw a 2-0 loss to overturned after Sudan fielded Saif Ali, who should have missed the match after a second yellow card of the group stage in the previous match.
The forfeit ensured that Ghana’s group stage finale would decide who moved on to the playoff round. The Black Stars would pull out a 2-1 home win to advance to the playoff, where the aforementioned thumping of Egypt made their return visit to Cairo merely a formality.
Asamoah Gyan’s brace against Egypt upped his total to six goals over both qualification rounds, earning him a share of top of the Continental scorers’ sheet.
Last World Cup appearance: 2010 South Africa (Quarter-Final)
First World Cup appearance: 2006 Germany (Round of 16)
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
Best World Cup finish: Quarter-Final (South Africa 2010)
There is still a bad taste in the mouth of the Black Stars from South Africa 2010. A Luis Suarez handball is likely all that kept Ghana from reaching the semi-finals, with the team ultimately dropping a shootout decision to Uruguay in the quarters. Ghana comes into its third-straight World Cup with something to prove, but knows full well that they’re not going to surprise anybody and just might not have the depth to replicate the heights of four years ago.
Appiah favours a 4-5-1 for his squad and why not when your strength is in the midfield? Led by veterans Michael Essien (Milan) and Sulley Muntari (Milan), plus the pacey Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke) and the Ayew brothers (Andre and Jordan, both at Marseille), the Black Stars will have a full, healthy midfield complement at their disposal.
Juventus star Kwadwo Asamoah will be the target man up front and is not afraid to run at defenders. Perhaps not as deadly a midfield as was possible in 2010, the likes of Germany, United States and Portugal will overlook this edition at their peril.
The issue for Ghana will be a paper-thin and mostly inexperienced defence anchored by Jon Mensah (Evian). An injury to one of its back four could spell utter disaster for the Black Stars and nobody, not even impressive Leicester youngster Jeff Schlupp, strikes an imperious enough figure to make a Thomas Muller or Cristiano Ronaldo think twice about making a run.
There’s no reason to believe that Ghana can’t get out of Group G, but will be in tough to do so. Like for the other three sides in the group, a loss will likely doom any chances of advancing, yet that knowledge can’t allow trepidation to set in to the point that a draw is all that will be played for.
Ghana was the almost the first African nation to feature in a World Cup semi-final in 2010. If there is an African team to take that mantle in 2014, in all likelihood, it won’t be the Black Stars.