Ghana – World Cup 2014 – Group G

GHANA

16-June USA (11pm GMT Natal)

21-June Germany (8pm GMT Fortaleza)

26-June Portugal (5pm GMT Brasilia)

Ghana reached their third consecutive World Cup in spectacular fashion with an emphatic aggregate win over Egypt. Stephen Donovan says they will be a dangerous team to come up against in Brazil.

Coach: Akwasi Appiah

The first manager born in Ghana to actually lead them to a World Cup, Appiah was appointed national team boss in April 2012 after a spell in charge of the Under-23 side. As a player, he captained his country in the early 1990s, but his aim now will be to take Ghana further than they have ever been on the biggest stage of all.

Why they could be dangerous

Ghana are built around an array of quality attacking players, so the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Christian Atsu and the Ayew brothers could give them the chance of making some serious progress in Brazil. Their starting XI is arguably the best of all the African teams taking part, and they could be seen as dark horses despite being handed a difficult group containing Germany, Portugal and the USA.

The world on his shoulders: Christian Atsu

Normally a left-winger, 22-year-old Atsu’s promise was enough to convince Chelsea to sign him in August 2013, and he has become a regular for Ghana, so plenty will be expected from him at the World Cup. Although not much of a goalscorer, group opponents Germany, Portugal and the USA will be very much aware of his growing reputation – and his pace could cause them all sorts of problems in defence.

Did you know?

Ghana have reached the knock-out stages of both World Cups they have contested so far in their history. In 2006, they managed it against all the odds, beating the Czech Republic and the USA to set up a second round meeting with Brazil, which they lost 3-0 in a game where Ronaldo scored a record 15th World Cup goal.

Country legend: Asamoah Gyan

Still a key member of the Ghana national team, it looks only a matter of time until Gyan breaks its international goalscoring record of 40, as he now lies just one behind on 39. Not only that, but he has scored them at crucial times to help his side past the group stages of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. In the latter, he scored the winner against the USA to take them into the quarter-finals, where his penalty miss will always be remembered.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Asamoah Gyan usually acts as the focal point to Ghana’s attack, while they have an array of talent to provide support to the striker. As for the three behind Gyan, Coach Akwasi Appiah has several options to choose from, with each providing their own degree of unpredictability and representing a different test to opposition defences. The holding midfield play of the experienced Michael Essien helps his teammates to bomb forward.

Ghana versus…

…USA P4 W4 D0 L0 F10 A2

…Germany P2 W0 D0 L2 F1 A7

…Portugal P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0

Stats

Population: 24.2 million

World Cup appearances: 2

Best finish: Quarter-finals, South Africa 2010

Famous for: Missing an extra time penalty against Uruguay in 2010 which would have taken them into the World Cup semi-finals. They lost the penalty shoot-out which followed what was a dramatic match.

Top Division: Ghanaian Premier League

How they got to the World Cup: Finished top of their group in qualifying, before beating Egypt 7-3 in a two-legged play-off.

FIFA World Ranking: 38

Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – Lost in the quarter-finals to Uruguay on penalties

Continental Honours: African champions in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982

Most Capped Player: Richard Kingson (90 caps)

Leading International Scorer: Edward Acquah and Kwasi Owusu (40 goals)

Nickname: Black Stars