2014 World Cup: Ghana aim for final as clash with USA draws near
The World Cup in Brazil is looming ever closer, and the coaches of each of the 32 nations taking part are beginning to talk up their side’s chances.
No pressure on Ghana, then; their manager James Kwesi Appiah says they’ve got the potential to win the entire competition.
Speaking to journalist Mark Gleeson, the experienced 53-year-old former international believes his country are well prepared and could go even further than they did in 2010.
This is despite being paired with the USMNT, as well as the heavyweights of Portugal and Germany (again).
It would be a shock if the Ghanaians progressed from the group, but as seen four years ago, the African nation have a very strong side and are a match for anyone.
Appiah said: “I believe we’ve got quality players and the most important thing is how you prepare yourself and how you psyche up the boys for the tournament. I personally believe we can do much, much better than we did the last time.”
In South Africa, Ghana were denied a place in the semi-finals of the competition by Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez’s handball on the line, stopping a certain goal.
Asamoah Gyan then cracked the resultant spot-kick off the bar, and the Uruguayans pipped the Africans to the last-four place in the penalty shoot-out.
No African side has ever reached the last four of the World Cup – Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and the Ghanaians in South Africa have all only reached the quarters.
So is a semi-final place possible this time round?
Appiah responded: “You never know! I believe that we’ve got the players. A good team is a team that has got a good bench, and at the moment we’ve also got a very good bench. That is the reason I think we can go very far, even taking the cup!”
That final comment may be merely a dream at the moment, but write Ghana off at your peril.
“I keep saying that I believe that African football has come of age and that many of the African countries are dong well at the moment,” said Appiah. “Although personally I believe in Ghana, I think the other African countries can also perform very well in the World Cup.”
The Black Stars, as they’re known, play the United States on June 16th in Natal in both sides’ first game at Brazil 2014.
Ghana boss Appiah is happy that big-name players Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng are back in the squad.
“It is always good to have some experienced players in your team and the most important thing is making sure they are fully fit for the tournament. As everyone knows they both have a lot of experience and with them – and the youth around them – I believe we have a very good team.”
Appiah’s words paint a picture of an uber-confident Ghana team – and although this may just be a front to strike fear into their World Cup opponents, the USMNT will need to prepare well if they’re to avoid another defeat to Ghana, like the one they suffered in the last 16 of the 2010 tournament.