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2014 World Cup: Ghana tactics and key questions

Published on: 05 June 2014
Michael Essien

This article is part of the Guardian’s World Cup 2014 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between 32 of the best media organisations from the countries who have qualified for the finals in Brazil. is running previews from four countries each day in the run-up to the tournament kicking off on 12 June

The Black stars manager, Kwesi Appiah, has a disdain for systems. According to him players should be allowed to play free of tactical restraints to get the best out of them.

He also believes in sticking with what works and is not known for experimentation.

In qualification for the World Cup, he stuck to the same group of players in a rigid 4-4-2; for so long Ghana have been masterful proponents of the 4-5-1. Appiah discovered the best way to get more out of his team during qualification was to give his captain and striker Asamoah Gyan some support.

That came in the form of the diminutive striker Abdul Majeed Waris, whose willingness to run at defenders and take them out of position opened up space for Gyan. Nine goals were scored between the pair in qualification.

It is not certain that Appiah will continue with this gung ho approach considering the deficiencies in the team’s defence and goalkeeper, as well as the fearsome attacking talent in the Group G opponents: Portugal, Germany and USA.

The question of who starts at centre-back is still up in the air with Jerry Akaminko, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Rashid Sumaila and Isaac Vorsah fighting for the slots.

The long-tested midfield partnership of Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari will be broken up with Mohammed Rabiu taking a defensive midfield slot to offer the energy and pace that the two experienced players can no longer provide.

Appiah’s biggest problem is at full-back. His best left-back is a right-back by trade who spends his regular season playing in midfield at Esperance, Harrison Afful, while his other options, Samuel Inkoom and Daniel Opare are nothing if not inconsistent.

Upfront, Gyan is untouchable and should receive plenty of help from Kevin-Prince Boateng in a link role while Christian Atsu patrols the flank.

Appiah has proven to be consistent with his system but the greatest advantage he brings to this team is a belief in them and an innate ability to draw the best out of unsung players.

Who is the player who is going to surprise everyone at the World Cup?

Rabiu did not play in the first two games of the qualifying series but by the end was generally heralded as the most important player in the team. The Kuban Krasnodar enforcer is 24 but has already played for six clubs. He is a tireless runner with magnificent instincts while his tackling is top notch.

He offers solid protection and a platform upon which the team builds their attacks. It is no easy task to make Essien and Muntari fight for a slot but that is what he has done in a year and is one of Appiah’s most trusted players.

Who is the player who is going to disappoint the most?

Sulley Muntari. For so long an untouchable for the Black Stars, Muntari is past his peak. His trademark ferociousness is gone as has his powerful left foot. He might start all the games but if things go awry, expect Ghanaian fans to point fingers at the Milan man.

What is the realistic aim for your team at the World Cup and why?

Semi-finals. The team is full of players with points to prove and in form at the right moment. The opening game against the USA in a tough group is the most important and a positive result will embolden an already confident squad.

Germany beat the African side at the last World Cup but Portugal will not beat Ghana. Outside of Group G, none of the teams on the path to the semi-finals can claim to be better than the Black Stars.



This article has 13 comment(s), give your comment
  • schywee says:
    June 05, 2014 07:58 pm
    For those who argue blindly like Troy, this piece cements the fact that Appiah is not an admirer of tactical play....and its been evident in all our play....Dont get me wrong....on a good day that will .....or should i say might work....but against a tactical coaches....Ghana will struggle. Troy believes playing to expose your defence and goal keeper is a tactic.....i have never heard that bar Ghanasoccernet commentators...... Appiah ,tactically is Keshie He is a mere motivator andv a believer but not a tactitian...
  • cofie says:
    June 05, 2014 08:01 pm
    Everyone shld go back and watch the partnership between K asa and Afful and that between PKB and André. that will give u an idea what tha coach was trying to do. U dnt expect him to lay all his tactics bare to the scouts of the other teams. You guyz talk too much and criticize with emotions and without small thinking. Aaabah!!!
  • shywee says:
    June 05, 2014 08:23 pm
    Cofie, its noble trying to defend AA, but really hide tactics? mordern soccer how do you hide tactics? will not be playing just a game...but at least 3 games....will AA then be hiding tactics till the 3rd and final game.?....there are videos everywhere of all Ghana's games and you talk about hiding tactics? We sure must be hiding tactics becausr there is no tactics.....the word used is disdain....this infact is a stronger word than hate.....the coach abhors tactical play period
  • schywee says:
    June 05, 2014 08:41 pm
    Why is gh soccernet deleting my comments...? You allow insults but delete geniune insultless comments ...shame on you.
  • schywee says:
    June 05, 2014 08:48 pm
    Cofie, from where we stand i believe you are doing the emotional comments...what was the game plan between these players you have stated...? Again you talk about hiding tactics in morden soccer? Is tgat even possible?...i mean you will be playing three games in wc asnd not just one....will gh then be hiding tactics in their first two games? There are videos everywhere of ghana previous games and you talk about hiding tactics? How will that be possible. We sure must be hiding our tactics because we have none. And the article states the obvious...Appiah has a DISDAIN for tactics...that word is stronger than hate...Appiah for sure is a good coach but not a tactical one period...there are enough games to prove that....those very games you chose to use to potray a plan of hiding tactics.
  • koo Emma says:
    June 06, 2014 06:15 am
    People keep on mentioning the name of rabiu in the midfield without realizing that the guy don't play productive football. He only commit fouls & give wrong passes. Intact AA was supposed to drop rabiu, adoma & inkoom. But first, hr was supposed to call vorsah & mensah to access their fitness in training since that was the main reason he didnt call them. In short, coach AA is a walking timed bomb waiting to explode on innocent Ghanaians. By the way i propose the following line up: 1. Kwarasey 2. Opare 3. Afful 4. Boye 5. Mensah 6. Essien 7. Ayew 8. K Asamoh 9. Gyan 10. Boaten 11. Muntari
  • shef says:
    June 06, 2014 02:14 am
    Hmmmmmmmm only heaven knows bur akoto is just making noise wr frm vorsa in the squad take it eazy wau
  • Edem says:
    June 05, 2014 11:18 pm
    This article is a joke and so is the coach if this is true. A coach without tactics is easily replaceable and not needed. He is then a glorified cheerleader and should be paid as such. Wasn't there an articles about having all level of Ghana squads running similar formation and tactics. Ha
  • lLord Maxi says:
    June 06, 2014 11:51 am
    perfect squad for the game
  • lLord Maxi says:
    June 06, 2014 11:53 am
    perfect squad for the fact if kwesi appiah can think this way we can even score brasil
  • Lord Maxi says:
    June 06, 2014 12:04 pm
    if kwesi appiah can start with these line up it will be better 1.kwarasey 2.opare 3.afful 4.mensah 5.boye 6.essien 7.D ayew 8.asamoah 9.gyan 10.boateng 11.muntari
  • Kwabena says:
    June 05, 2014 04:47 pm
    Ghana's success will depend on two primary factors: 1. Keeping a solid defensive midfield with Essien/Rabiu and Sulley Muntari 2. The quick switching between Sulley Muntari and Kwadwo Asamoah in the left forward position. This will form the engine of the Black Stars.
  • lLord Maxi says:
    June 06, 2014 11:48 am
    I wish Kwesi Appiah shd start use Kwadwo Asamoah in central midfield and Muntari on the left wing