Placed into the “Group of Death,” the Black Stars dream of returning to knockout rounds
Four years removed from making it to the quarter finals in South Africa, Ghana returns to the 2014 World Cup ready to fight. With arguably one of most physically dominant teams in South Africa, the Black Stars bring another strong lineup to Brazil. Featuring some of Italy’s and France’s best club players, manager Kwesi Appiah has a depth of talent to choose from. With many returning faces from the 2010 squad that defeated the United States in the knockout round, Ghana will hope early success can lead to momentum for the rest of the tournament.
One of the more puzzling situations heading into Brazil will be who will start for the Black Stars in goal. The most recent starter has been Fatau Dauda, who plays for the Orlando Pirates in the South African Premier Soccer League. However, also making the roster for Ghana is Adam Kwarasey who plays club football in Norway. Dauda has made 17 caps for country and Kwarasey has amassed 21. Assuming Dauda starts against the United States in just a few weeks, it will be something to watch, to see how the Ghanaian keepers handle the likes of a Jozy Altidore, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Lukas Podolski of the U,S,, Portugal, and Germany respectively.
Much like the situation in goal, the Ghana defense is relatively new to the international scene. Returning from the 2010 world cup squad is Samuel Inkoom, now age 25. Inkoom brings loads of experience to the back four and will be counted on as a leader of the defense. Having played for the senior team since 2008, Inkoom, faced Germany in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup. Other notable players include Harrison Afful, John Boye, and Daniel Opare. Opare will be an exciting player to watch, as the right back will be making his Ghana World Cup debut, just weeks after moving to Porto.
As teams found out in the 2010 World Cup, the Black Stars have one of the most physically gifted midfields in the world. With an average age of 25 in the midfield, Ghana should have the legs to keep up in the hot Brazilian temperatures. The hero of the 2010 campaign, Kevin-Prince Boateng, returns to the Black Stars after retiring from international football. Also included in the roster are Michael Essien, Kwadwo Asamoah, André Ayew, and Christian Atsu. Essien can be relied on to be a pest all game, never seeming to run out of energy. Having played for the likes of Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and now AC Milan, Essien has the an incredible background that can be matched by few.
After making the odd move from England to the United Arab Emirates to play club soccer, Asamoah Gyan had people’s heads spinning. The talented striker moved from one of the best leagues in the world to a league not many had ever heard of. However, the move didn’t seem to trouble Gyan as he has tallied 59 goals in 47 games since the start of the 2012 season. Gyan most notably is remembered for striking a late penalty off the crossbar in the 2010 World Cup that would have sent Ghana to the semi-finals over Uruguay. Joining Gyan will be the younger brother of André Ayew, Jordan Ayew, as well as Abdul Majeed Waris. Both Ayew and Waris at age 22 will be looking to make an impact to propel both their careers for club and country.
Ghana Starting XI Projection: 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper: Fatau Dauda
Defenders: RB Daniel Opare; CB Jonathan Mensah; CB Harrison Afful; LB Samuel Inkoom
Midfielders: RDM Michael Essien; LDM Mohammed Rabiu; RM Kwadwo Asamoah; CAM Kevin-Prince Boateng, LM André Ayew
Forward: CF Asamoah Gyan