Today we take a look at Group G, where last tournament’s African heroes Ghana will have it tough if they aim to better their quarter-final exit in South Africa.
The entire African continent felt robbed in 2010 after a Luis Suarez hand-ball prevented Ghana from becoming the first African nation to qualify for a World Cup semi-final. To repeat the feat, the Black Stars must first get through a challenging group containing European heavyweights Germany and Portugal.
Qualification: W 6, D 0, L 2
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
Best World Cup finish: Quarter-finals (2010)
Current FIFA ranking: 37
Coach: Former Ghana captain Kwesi Appiah took charge of the Black Stars in April 2012, having led the Ghanaian U23 side to victory at the 2011 All-Africa Games. He has experience at senior national level however, having been Ghana’s assistant coach from 2007 to 2012, and will become the first black African coach to take Ghana to a World Cup in Brazil 2014.
Captain and Key player: Ghana’s star striker Asamoah Gyan will look to put past World Cup hurt behind him as he attempts to lead the Black Stars out of a difficult group in Brazil.
The well-travelled forward, who has played in his native Ghana as well as Italy, France, England and the United Arab Emirates, is known for his athleticism, pace and keen eye for goal. He has regularly found the back of the net for both club and country, and has taken the UAE Pro-League by storm. The 28-year-old has been top goal scorer in the Asian country for the past two years with 30 goals in his first season and 22 last season with record League-winning club Al Ain.
Twice Ghanaian Footballer of the Year and his country’s all-time top scorer with over 30 goals, Gyan made his debut for the Black Stars as a 17-year-old in 2003, scoring in his first game, against Somalia. A member of the Ghanaian 2004 Olympic squad, Gyan scored four times in his country’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup, where he became Ghana’s first-ever goalscorer at the Mundial, scoring the tournament’s fastest goal after 68 seconds in a 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic.
Gyan scored three goals en route to the quarter-finals at South Africa 2010, but his last-minute penalty miss against Uruguay denied Africa’s first representation in a World Cup semi-final.
Key fixture: Ghana will need to be at their best from the get-go, and cannot afford to slip-up in their opener against the USA with the knowledge that European giants Germany and Portugal await.
17 June, 00:00 Ghana vs USA
21 June, 21:00 Germany vs Ghana
26 June, 18:00 Portugal vs Ghana
Don’t miss the current edition of KICKOFF magazine for 16 pages of World Cup analysis, plus TWO World Cup wall charts, so you can follow every game of the world showpiece.
Be sure to keep updated with all the news from your favourite teams in this year’s FIFA World Cup on snl24.com/kickoff, as well as insight into emerging stars from each group in Brazil.