Samuel Inkoom

Samuel Inkoom

Coming within a kick of creating history at the last World Cup will be the spur for Ghana as it seeks to break new ground in Brazil this year.

The Black Stars squandered a last minute penalty in extra time of their quarter-final tie against Uruguay in Johannesburg four years ago to miss becoming the first African side to reach the final four at a World Cup tournament and have been haunted by the failure ever since.

It will provide the motivation for a country which has been handed a tough draw but is confident of progressing past at least two of Germany, Portugal and the United States in Group G.

Ghana: World Cup facts

FIFA world ranking: 38World Cup appearances: 3Best finish: Quarter-finals (2010)Leading WC goalscorer: Asamoah Gyan ? 4

While Asamoah Gyan?s missed penalty ? awarded after Luis Suarez infamously stopped a certain goal with his hand ? was the subject of much heartbreak it has, paradoxically, given the country a heightened sense of achievement and possibility.

Coach Kwesi Appiah has repeatedly suggested in the run-up to the tournament that Ghana will make the semi-finals this time around, despite the difficult group.

The confidence also stems from a proficient qualifying campaign where Ghana edged out 2012 African champions Zambia to win its group and then thrashed Egypt 6-1 in the two-legged play-off, suggesting it is the best balanced of the five African contenders in Brazil.

Ghana?s prospects have been bolstered by a return to the fold of Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng, both of whom had put their international careers on hold in 2011.

Influential players like Gyan, who has scored 39 goals for his country, Kwadwo Asamoah, Sulley Muntari and Dede Ayew all return from the 2010 squad.

But Ghana does struggle at the back, with a lack of quality in goal and defence.

In defence the successors to John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah come with little of the quality the centre back paring provided at past tournaments, while first-choice keeper Fatau Dauda has lost his place because of a lack of game time at club level.


Despite their enthusiasm, the Ghanaians will find it very difficult to advance past a group featuring the Germans and Portuguese. Ghana has a good record against USA, so should be favourite for third place in Group G. 

Ghana?s likely World Cup squad

Evian Thonon Gaillard FC (FRA)

Star player: Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah

If the last World Cup holds only memories of heartbreak for Ghana?s Kwadwo Asamoah, this time round he is stronger, wiser and could be the key player if his country is to make good on its frustrated ambitions.

Since the 2010 disappointment, versatile midfielder Asamoah has moved to Italian club Juventus and has been in great form this season as Juve pushed for a third successive Serie A title.

The Accra-born Asamoah is already a veteran international at the age of 25, having debuted at 17, and played a leading role in helping Ghana qualify for Brazil.

He now has 59 caps, scoring four times, for the Black Stars and was lauded as Ghana Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Since arriving at Juventus he has flourished, helping the Italian giants win the Serie A league in 2012-13 and the Italian cup in 2012 and 2013.

For Juventus, he has dropped back to play at left-back, though he still pushes forward to score goals ? a stunning strike against Fiorentina in March being a fine example.

He plays in a more central role for Ghana, linking the midfield and attack, and has grown into the team?s mastermind.

Coach: Kwesi Appiah

Kwesi Appiah

Kwesi Appiah

Kwesi Appiah will be one of two African coaches at the World Cup in Brazil but unlike his Nigerian counterpart Stephen Keshi, the Ghanaian has little profile outside his own country.

A former international full-back, the 53-year-old Appiah has made his way through the coaching ranks at the Ghana Football Association and after serving as an assistant and twice as caretaker coach, was given the job on a full-time basis in 2012.

Appiah is a poster boy for African coaches, amid a growing consensus that they need to be given more opportunity at the helm of African national teams as opposed to the hiring of expensive foreigners.

He worked as an assistant to Milovan Rajevac, who took Ghana to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2010 and then replaced him for several matches before another Serb, Goran Stevanovic, was appointed.

Fourth place at the 2012 African Nations Cup was deemed a failure and saw Stevanovic sacked and the principle of hiring a local over a foreigner was finally embraced by the Ghana Football Association after much public pressure.

Appiah subsequently took Ghana to fourth place at the 2013 African Nations Cup but a stellar World Cup qualification campaign means his job has not been under any threat.

Credit: Reuters

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