By Robert Norton
As this is written there is 50 days, 7 hours, 55 minutes and 17 seconds until the World Cup kicks off. On June 16th Team USA will attempt a win against Ghana in Natal at the Estadio das Dunas. An interesting beginning for the men’s national team as it truly is a celebration of one’s natal day.
Having been drawn into Group G, affectionately labeled “The Group of Death”, with Portugal, Germany and United States, Ghana certainly is the underdog of the four teams.
They are certainly not to be counted out. Some quick stats will justify why the United States should be concerned about their first round matchup with the Blackstars.
- The team has won the Africa Cup of Nations four times, while appearing nineteen times.
- Has won the West African Nations Cup five times in 1982-1984 & 1986-1987. The Tournament was not held in 1985.
- In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they became only the third African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. The United States men’s team is aware of Ghana’s presence in this match.
- They have had 3 World Cup appearances in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Ghana became the only team in Africa to reach four consecutive semi-finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations twice, from 1963 and 1970 and from 2008 and 2013. There is a certain amount of excitement for this countries resurgence in the eyes of the world. Having become successfully ranked high enough for FIFA, Ghana started their bid for the 2014 World Cup by winning their group and eventually going on to beat Egypt 7-3 on aggregate in a two legged play off.
The last time Ghana and The United States met in a World Cup match, the Blackstars beat the U.S. in extra time 2-1 propelling them into the quarter-finals. With an unfortunate loss to Uruguay on a flagrant handball by Luis Suarez, Ghana looks to return with impressive form.
The men’s U.S. team needs to be ready for this match, Ghana is looking for a rebirth on the pitch and coach James Kwesi Appiah is ready to make his team champions. “I think there are going to be a lot of surprises in this group,” he said calmly, beaming with a warm, reassuring smile.