Ghana - a guide to the Black Stars
Ghana have high hopes of eclipsing their quarter-final appearance in 2010 but can the Black Stars navigate their way out of Group G? Ian Watson looks at the Black Stars' chances...
Last Updated: 09/06/14 11:12am
After their heartbreaking quarter-final exit four years ago, hopes are high in Ghana of going one better in Brazil, with the aim being to become the first African nation to reach the last four.
Despite their talent, the Black Stars face a mammoth assignment, especially given the task they face in just escaping from the group. Kwesi Appiah's men will threaten any defence but their own rearguard will likely be their undoing.
Their 7-3 aggregate win over Egypt in the qualification play-off highlighted their firepower, with the nation's top scorer Asamoah Gyan continuing to lead the line, ably supported by Marseille's Andre Ayew, Schalke star Kevin-Prince Boateng and Udinese midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah.
Michael Essien will be tasked with the job of screening the back four, with the 31-year-old still key to his country's hopes having reversed his decision to step away from the international scene. The AC Milan midfielder may not be the buccaneering Bison of old, but his discipline and composure in front of a suspect defensive unit will be crucial.
Ghana's Group G fixtures:
1. Monday June 16: Ghana v USA - Natal (23.00)
2. Saturday June 21: Germany v Ghana - Fortaleza (20.00)
3. Thursday June 26: Portugal v Ghana - Brasilia (17.00)
Coach: Kwesi Appiah.
The former Black Stars captain is the first Ghanaian coach to take charge of the national team at a World Cup finals, but Appiah is an inexperienced head coach. He acted as an assistant to two Serbian predecessors for five years prior to his appointment in 2012 but it remains to be seen whether he has the game management or tactical acumen required at the very highest level.
Star man: Kevin-Prince Boateng
Boateng is a far more seasoned player at club level, having played in the Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga, but the German-born midfielder could be key to his adopted nation's hopes in Brazil. The 27-year-old turned in creditable performances in South Africa, where he faced his brother in the Germany side and scored in the round-of-16 victory over USA. Having returned to the international fold in time for the play-off victory over Egypt following a near two-and-a-half-year absence, the Schalke showman will be once again keen to prove himself on the biggest stage.
Tournament best: Quarter-finals 2010.
Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari (both AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse Arnhem), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan)
Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux).
British based players: Albert Adomoah (Middlesbrough).
Sky Bet odds: 250/1
Quarter-finalists four years ago, Ghana will do well to get beyond the group stage in Brazil. They are slight favourites to make a winning start in their opening match against USA but are still odds-on shots to be eliminated after the first round of matches. Ghana impressed in qualification, scoring 18 goals, but there are big question marks over their defensive abilities against quality opposition. Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan is 9/4 to finish as his country's top scorer.