In 2010, Ghana joined an elite group of African sides to reach the quarter-finals during the World Cup. The only other teams to do so were Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002; even more impressive was the fact that it was the second appearance for the Black Stars, who made their debut in 2006.
Given the fact during their first appearance they made it to the round of 16, followed by their impressive quarter-finals run, fans will be hoping that third time will be the charm and the team will make further progress in the tournament.
For Asamoah Gyan, the pressure will be on the Accra native and captain both for his team and at a personal level.
The 28-year-old, who was born on November 22, 1985 in Ghana's capital city first made his debut for the national side as a fresh-faced 17-year-old.
A bit under three years later, Gyan achieved another milestone when he netted the first goal for his nation in their first World Cup showing in 2006.
However, for his personal triumphs, the striker has seen some nadirs as well, notably missing a penalty kick against Uruguay after Luis Suarez's handball and again in the semi-finals of the 2012 African Cup of Nations versus Zambia.
As a result, Gyan opted to take a break from the international football scene only to return soon after in 2012 and was promptly instated as the squad's captain.
Interestingly, unlike many of his colleagues, he presently plies his trade in the Middle East, having signed with Al Ain on a loan deal in 2011 that soon turned permanent. Although his first sojourn abroad was with Italian side Udinese, he found life in Serie A hard to adjust to and did not really find his stride until he moved on to Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.
Unfortunately, after a good debut season, his injury woes returned and he was unable to have any further impact before departing for Premier League side Sunderland.
Indeed, his time in Europe was best characterized by spurts of brilliance followed by injuries that had largely prevented him from becoming the player that now routinely leads the scoring charts in the UAE Pro League.
This past season was Gyan's best to date, which saw him grab an impressive 41 goals in all competitions with the team that he has won two league titles so far to date.
Given that Ghana have been placed in the toughest group of the tournament, with Germany, Portugal, and familiar opponents USA, Black Stars fans will be hoping that he will be able to banish the demons from that 2010 penalty miss and fire his side to glory to Brazil.
Some interesting facts about the Black Stars captain:
- On November 19, 2003, Gyan became the youngest player ever to debut for Ghana at just 17 years of age.
- He also marked his debut by establishing himself as the youngest sever to score when he netted against Somalia.
- In 2006, he set two milestones during his team's maiden WC outing. His strike after just 68 seconds was the fastest at the tournament and subsequently the first goal for the Black Stars in a World Cup.
- At 28 years of age, he is now Ghana's all time leading scorer with 39 goals and will be looking to add more to that tally in Brazil.
- In just three seasons in the UAE, he has grabbed a total of 100 goals--more than his total haul from his spells in England, France, and Italy.