By Douglas Smith
Fans of the USMNT see Ghana as a rival given recent World Cup history between the two national teams.
There was a groan of “not them again” when the two were drawn into the same group, and they will now face off on June 16.
Coach Kwesi Appiah understands that the first match is extremely important, but still has many decisions to make on the back end of his team. At this point, Appiah probably has about 18 players of his team decided, but there is no doubt that the strength will be in the attack.
The Black Stars lost in the semifinals of both the 2012 and 2013 African Cup. Now, some are seeing the Ivory Coast and Nigeria ahead of Ghana in terms of African countries in the competition.
The country has invested $10 million into the program to help players in their preparations for Brazil, and the pressure falls on Appiah to select the players.
Friendlies with Costa Rica, Honduras and the Netherlands will help move that process along. Local communities have used various mediums to help promote the players for the squad, so there is no doubt that Appiah will be under scrutiny when he releases his preliminary roster by May 13.
Ghana will bring a formidable attack that will look to break down the USMNT center-backs. This is led by Asamoah Gyan, who scored the goal in extra time of the 2010 World Cup to eliminate the U.S. He has fueled the rivalry as well with a vow to beat the U.S. for the third straight time.
Gyan is expected to be joined by Andrew Ayew, the son of Abedi Pele. Pele is widely considered Ghana’s best player ever.
However, Ayew failed to show for team activities and was held out. He has supposedly spoke with Appiah and mended any wounds. Others who should contribute to the scoring total include Russian-based Mubarak Wakaso and Abdul Majeed Waris.
The quality does not dip in the midfield. Two players have rejoined the national team after self-imposed sabbaticals and/or injuries. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien are reunited with the national team and expected to be anchors in the middle.
Kwadwo Asamoah is also going to feature, but could end up in defense. Asamoah used the word “war” to describe the rivalry with the U.S.
Appiah has a wealth of players to chose from through the midfield. Albert Adomah could be selected because of family ties, but Appiah shouldn’t have to use connections to fill out the midfield.
This is where the question marks are for Ghana. There are probably five players already on the plane to Brazil, but there are injury concerns on the back line. Lee Addy and John Mensah are still recovering.
Greuther Furth defender Baba Abdul Rahman has an outside chance to make the squad depending on injuries.
Samuel Inkoom will be the veteran on the back line as he has came back from being relegated to the bench. He has been with six clubs since 2007 and represented Ghana since 2008.
Harrison Afful joined the national team in the same year as Inkoom, and should start at left-back. The right-back will mostly likely be Daniel Opare, who has helped his team Lens earn a promotion spot in France.
The goalkeeping position is also in play. Adam Kwarasey, Fatau Dauda and Daniel Agyei are options. There are as many as four others to fill the three keeper spots on the roster. Of course there is also CHAN hero Stephen Adams.
Obviously the opening match with the U.S. is the most pivotal match for both teams. The odds are stacked against Ghana, especially when the tactic is to outscore the other team.
The defense is not going to have enough time to gel. Ghana will not make it out of the group stage.