Ghana hopes to make World Cup history ​for Africa

Last time, Ghana came awfully close to being the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals, its progress halted by a handball on the goal-line from Uruguay striker Luis Suarez and Asamoah Gyan’s miss from the resulting penalty late in extra time.

Gyan is captain this time and Ghana still has the core of the side that eventually lost in a shootout at the 2010 tournament. They’ve set their sights on going a step further in Brazil.

Midfielders Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who both took extended breaks from international duty, have returned to bring the squad back to full strength.

The Ghana team left South Africa as the toast of the continent four years ago, but has struggled to live up to that promise between the World Cups, losing to Zambia and Burkina Faso in the semifinals of the 2012 and 2013 African Cup tournaments. All that casts doubt on whether Ghana is Africa’s best contender in Brazil, particularly with top-ranked African team Côte d’Ivoire and continental champion Nigeria also in the mix.

And then there’s the opposition in the group stage: Germany, Portugal and the United States.

Serious challenge
Kwesi Appiah, a former national team captain who is coaching at his first World Cup, faces a serious challenge just to get Ghana into the second round. “It’s a tough group but if you’re going out there for a competition then you have to have the ultimate ambition, which is to win it and be prepared for any team you come up against,” Appiah said. “For me, once you’ve gone through the first games and qualified then the confidence levels increase and for that reason you have to have the mentality that you cannot be afraid of anyone.”

Essien and Boateng give Ghana vital big-game experience, with Essien’s form possibly the key. The AC Milan midfielder missed the 2010 tournament with injury and despite his success at club level, some critics aren’t convinced he has fully delivered on his potential for his country.

Gyan is the team’s leader from the front, and there’s also Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, Marseille winger Andre Ayew and young Russia-based Wakaso Mubarak, who was outstanding as an attacking midfielder in the last African Cup of Nations.

Almost all Ghana’s best players play in foreign leagues, making World Cup preparations sometimes problematic. But Appiah sees the experience of the European leagues as an advantage. “All of my players are at very good clubs so there’s no reason to be cautious,” Appiah said. “We’re going there full of confidence.”

Ghana’s government has pledged nearly $10-million to help the players’ preparations in Brazil, a small fortune for an African team. The financial injection and the success of 2010 mean very big things are expected this time around. – Sapa-AP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Francis Kokutse
Francis Kokutse works from ACCRA,Ghana. Journalist Francis Kokutse has over 351 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Shell v Wild Coast: Science, research and erring on the...

Court applicants have argued that the company should be required to conduct an environmental impact assessment, based on the best available science, which has advanced considerably since Shell’s permit to conduct seismic surveys was granted

How spies shape South Africa’s political path

From Mbeki to Zuma to Ramaphosa, the facts and fictions of the intelligence networks have shadowed political players and settled power struggles

I’m just a lawyer going to court, says attorney on...

The Mthatha attorney is angered by a tweet alleging he sways the high court and the Judicial Services Commission

Death of Zimbabwe’s funeral business

Burial societies and companies have collapsed and people can no longer afford decent burials for their family members

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…