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World Cup 2014 Preview: Ghana seeks another berth in knockout round

black stars

Ghana’s task of advancing to the knockout round for a third consecutive World Cup became much more difficult at the conclusion of December’s draw.

black stars

Ghana’s task of advancing to the knockout round for a third consecutive World Cup became much more difficult at the conclusion of December’s draw.

 

The African nation was placed in the “Group of Death” along with Germany, Portugal and the United States, setting up a massive battle for the runner-up spot to see which nation will likely join group-favorite Germany in the Round of 16.

Difficult groups have not fazed Ghana in years past, though. The Black Stars were placed in Group E in 2006 along with Italy, the Czech Republic and the U.S. and managed to finish second behind eventual champions Italy.

The 2010 World Cup saw Ghana placed in Group D with Germany, Australia and Serbia, and the Black Stars went 1-1-1 in group play to advance to the knockout round where they ousted the U.S. in extra time before being eliminated by Uruguay on penalties.

Despite the difficult draw, there is plenty to like about Ghana ahead of the tournament.

There is an air of familiarity between Ghana and two of its Group G opponents as the nation was paired with Germany in the previous World Cup and has bounced the United States from the past two tournaments.

Also, many of Ghana’s players are in the prime of their careers and still boast plenty of experience.

Asamoah Gyan is the nation’s focal point in attack. The 28-year-old has 78 caps to his name and has led the line for the Black Stars at the past two World Cup tournaments.

In support of Gyan, Ghana can deploy any number of players plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues.

AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari is one the nation’s most experienced players while Juventus midfielder Kwando Asamoah, at just 25 years old, has 61 caps to his name.

Michael Essien’s resume speaks for itself, and the former Real Madrid and Chelsea star should anchor the midfield in a holding position in front of the back-four.

Kevin-Prince Boateng, who despite only amassing 12 caps, is one of Ghana’s most threatening players, capable of occupying a multitude of attacking positions and changing a game on his own.

But while the Black Stars are quite accomplished in attack, their defense is somewhat suspect.

Longtime goalkeeper Richard Kingson is not in the squad and it will be up to Adam Kwarasey to fill the massive void.

John Mensah, a stalwart in the center of Ghana’s defense for many years, is also not in the side, meaning that 23-year-old Jonathan Mensah will need to be a leader in the back line.

Samuel Inkoom also boasts previous World Cup experience, but the world-class talent that Ghana will face in the group stage puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the team’s young defensive unit.

Ghana could not have been dealt a more difficult hand in the World Cup draw, but the Black Stars have surprised spectators before, and they will be looking to do the same in 2014.

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