2014 World Cup: Ghana - Time To Shine
Having landed the ‘Group of Death’, Ghana’s passage to the tournament’s second round is not assured. Alongside them in Group G are USA, Germany and Portugal.
Manager Kwesi Appiah will know his players have to be at their very maximum if they are to better their best ever World Cup finish of the quarter-finals in 2010.
The African team will undoubtedly look to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien to orchestrate things in the middle of the park.
Now at AC Milan, his experience will be vital in what is still quite a young team and their manager will look to him to guide the youngsters.
Most pundits will expect the Germans and the Portuguese to go through as the top two teams, but it would be churlish for either European team to underestimate their African opponents. Both Ghana and the group’s remaining team, USA, are gloriously unpredictable and have the ability to surprise or stifle the opposition.
Captain Asamoah Gyan – who illuminated the tournament in 2010 – will be vital to the team as their main goalscorer; but his strike partner Abdul Majeed Waris may prove even more crucial to the team.
His ability to create space and distract defenders may be the key in allowing the team’s leader to score the goals he is known for.
Although still a Spartak Moscow player, Majeed Waris scored an impressive nine goals in 15 games while on loan at Valenciennes during the second half of the season.
It will be intriguing to see if the coach sticks to the 4-4-2 formation that got his team through qualifying, particularly when facing counter-attacking teams such as Germany and Portugal.
A star could be born in the shape of Rabiu Mohammed. The midfielder showed his strength and pace in midfield throughout qualifying, which complemented the ageing physicality of Essien.
Mohammed was the Black Stars’ surprise package as they booked their ticket to Brazil. The Kuban Krasnodar player will hope to continue his good run in the first-team in place of veteran Sulley Muntari.
The 24-year-old Mohammed is in the mode of the modern defensive midfielder who has a turn of speed, although he hasn’t yet scored for his national team.
But if they do emerge from their difficult group, the Black Stars will feel they have a genuine chance of being the foremost African team in Brazil.
It is time for the Black Stars to shine again.
Nickname: Black Stars
Three players to watch: Asamoah Gyan, Abdul Majeed Waris, Mohammed Rabiu
Group G World Cup 2014 fixtures: June 16: USA, June 21: Germany, June 26: Portugal