GROUP G
Ghana

THE 60-SECOND OVERVIEW

At a time of austerity, almost $10 million has been budgeted for Ghana’s World Cup bid – and no expense is being spared on travel, board and lodgings. With that comes expectation – a totally new feeling considering that during the last two tournaments little was spent or expected, and the Black Stars flourished.

Anything lower than a quarter-final finish in Brazil will be considered a failure. Is that fair? Unlike in 2010, all Ghana’s best players are likely to be available, but with age and inconsistency creeping into their much-lauded midfield, a creaky defence, predictable attack, light bench and tendency towards indiscipline, their target could well be a mirage. Ghana are talented, but perhaps not as good as they’re budgeting for.

THE DREAM

Be the first African team to reach the semi-finals. Kwesi Appiah is the first African coach to lead a team to the World Cup – and the symbolism clearly weighs heavily. Asamoah Gyan, Ghana’s record World Cup scorer with four goals, could also become just the fourth African player to score in three World Cups (after Francois Omam-Biyik, Roger Milla, and Samuel Eto’o).

The greatest triumph for this team will be, however, to give a fitting farewell to its veterans, particularly Michael Essien, who has achieved desperately little for his country, mainly due to injury.

THE NIGHTMARE

A group stage exit could be politically damaging. Since coming to power in 2006, the country’s current FA regime have built their reputation on making the team globally attractive.

To get far in Brazil, certain key players must not be injured. Knocks to defenders, where Ghana have scant back-up, will be almost certainly be catastrophic. The coach once toyed with playing Ghana’s only truly world-class player, Kwadwo Asamoah, at left-back. It failed badly. He will do well to avoid such woes again.

THE STATS
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INVENT A NEW DANCE: ASAMOAH GYAN

There are whispers that the player is cooking up a new boogie, following his contributions to making Ghanaian dance popular on a global stage.

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GET SENT OFF: SULLEY MUNTARI

Always rambunctious, Muntari picked up a yellow card in all three games he managed at Germany 2006 (having been suspended for the last group game). And that was when he was eight years quicker. But despite his decreasing pace, he’s still likely to start games.

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TERRIFY OPPONENTS: FATAU DAUDA

He favours a hippie look, with unruly hair like a lion’s mane. When Ghana score, he’s all bared teeth, flared nostrils and bulging eyes. Gulp.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kwesi Appiah is nicknamed the ‘Silent Killer’ because of his ruthlessness. Keep staring at the floor when he’s giving out the hairdryer, lads...

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Ghana has high hopes – and expectations, with a quarter-final benchmark. Appiah's men may be past their best but still pack a punch.