World Cup final squad decision time as Ghana take on Montenegro in friendly today
Ghana reach a key stage in their 2014 World Cup preparation as they take on Montenegro on Wednesday in the last match before coach Kwesi Appiah names his squad for June’s tournament in Brazil.
The match in Podgorica will give coach Appiah the chance of a fair idea of his final squad for the World Cup even though he has admitted that there are only some few positions to be taken in his final 23-man squad.
This midweek’s round of international friendly fixtures constitutes a last chance for many players to force their way into the reckoning ahead of the World Cup in Brazil in June and July.
Wedged into a busy period in the club season, 99 days before the World Cup itself begins, it is the only international date before most coaches announce their squads for the finals in May.
So this match is important for all the players in the Black Stars squad to impress the coach before he sends his final squad to FIFA in two months time.
In December’s draw for the global showpiece, Ghana – quarter-finalists in 2010 – were put into a particularly tough group alongside Germany, Portugal and the United States.
While Ghana are sure to have the World Cup in their minds, Montenegro will use this week’s fixture as a chance to make progress ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers, which start in September.
Montenegro have been drawn in Group G alongside Russia, Sweden, Austria, Liechtenstein and Moldova, with their qualification campaign beginning against the latter.
Coach Branko Brnovic has labelled Ghana as Africa’s leading team and feels Wednesday’s match will be of great benefit to his side.
“Ghana is the best team in Africa and they will give us that competitive edge we require in friendly games,” said Brnovic.
“Their performance in the World Cup in recent times tells us how good they are as a team.
“They are also preparing towards the World Cup and won’t come here for fun so we look forward to that game against a very tough opponent.”
Montenegro go into the match in unimpressive form having won only one of their last seven matches – a 4-1 friendly triumph over Luxembourg in November.
Their hopes of reaching the World Cup in Brazil were ended by poor form towards the end of UEFA qualifying.
After winning four out of five games at the start of the campaign, Montenegro fell away badly, failing to win any of their remaining five fixtures and finishing a distant third in Group H behind England and Ukraine.
Ghana, on the other hand, have suffered only one defeat in their last seven, and that came after a penalty shootout when the African Nations Championship final against Libya finished 0-0.
Coach Kwesi Appiah has decided to drop his usual first-choice goalkeeper Fatau Dauda for the trip to Podgorica, with the 28-year-old struggling for first-team football at club level with Orlando Pirates.
Stephen Adams has been selected in Dauda’s place and the Adauna Stars man is the only Ghana-based player to be named in the squad, while centre-back duo Jonathan Mensah and John Boye return following injuries.
Although Brnovic believes the match against Ghana will help Montenegro prepare for future competitive action, he will be without arguably his two most important players as Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) and captain Mirko Vucinic (knee) are both unavailable.
Kick off time: 5pm (Ghana time)
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