While Ghana haven’t competed at as many World Cup tournaments as Cameroon, Nigeria or some of the North African nations, they have an exceptional record in the competition.
Consider this: No African nation has ever competed at multiple World Cup tournaments and been eliminated in the opening round.
For that record to continue beyond this summer, Kwesi Appiah’s men will have to deliver an outstanding performance. They are drawn, once again, with familiar foes the United States, but while they will be confident of defeating the USA, Germany and Portugal may represent a challenge too far.
Nonetheless, Ghana fans can look at their squad, find quality in every department, and dream of a repeat of 2006 or even, if you concentrate hard enough, a return to the quarter-finals.
Road to the Finals
By Ed Dove
While Lesotho and Sudan didn't pose a great threat to Ghana in the CAF World Cup Qualifying Group Stage, the Black Stars were also pooled with Zambia. The former African Champions, under the guidance of Herve Renard, were keen to build on their triumph in the continental competition and represented a menacing foe.
To the West Africans’ credit, however, they beat the "Chipolopolo" in Kumasi and also profited from Zambia’s slip-up at home to Sudan last June.
In the play-offs, Kwesi Appiah’s men met Egypt in a true African heavyweight clash. They proved their quality, however, with a resounding 6-1 triumph in the opening leg—it is a result that will go down as one of the greatest in African qualifying history.
Kwesi Appiah opted to name only 26 players when he released his squad on Monday morning. In the main, the Black Stars’ big names were included, although there was no place for Isaac Vorsah or Anthony Annan, both of whom have been inactive for considerable portions of the campaign.
Afriyie Acquah and David Accam have both received call-ups—which will be a popular decision with the fans—while Jeffrey Schlupp has been rewarded for his excellent performances in the Championship with a first call-up since 2011.
You can check out Bleacher Report’s Ghana squad guide here: Ghana Player-by-Player Guide
Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars).
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Jerry Akaminko (Kisehirspor), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan).
Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux), David Accam (Helsingborg).
Kwesi Appiah travels to Brazil as the first-ever Ghanaian to take control of the Black Stars at a World Cup. He deserves this honour, having masterminded the Black Stars’ qualification, but the side’s showing at the Cup of Nations at the beginning was distinctly uninspired—Ghana will hope for a severe improvement in the side’s on-field performance.
Recent evidence suggests they might not be disappointed. Ghana were dominant against Egypt in the play-off first-leg, winning 6-1 with veterans Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari pulling the strings in midfield.
A double-Scudetto winner with Juventus in Italy, Kwadwo Asamoah has proved himself to be one of the continent’s finest midfielders since leaving Udinese in the summer of 2012.
In truth, perhaps only Yaya Toure is as complete a midfielder as Kojo.
However, it remains to be seen how Appiah will use his best player this summer. Asamoah’s versatility often means that he is pushed out to wide positions, and while he has proved his prowess on the left at club level, Ghana really require his industry and his creativity at the epicentre of their side.
One to Watch
Valenciennes may finally have succumbed to Ligue 1 relegation, but the Northern club would surely have done so much earlier had it not been for the scoring form of Majeed Waris.
The Black Stars hitman endured a torrid time at Spartak Moscow toward the end of 2013 and headed to Ligue 1 on loan in January, keen to earn some playing time and return to form ahead of the World Cup.
He has done so in emphatic form, scoring nine goals and being Man of the Match on three occasions since the beginning of the year.
World Cup Record
2006: Last 16 – P4 W2 D0 L2 GF4 GA6
Star Man: Stephen Appiah (pictured) was plagued by injury for so much of his career, but during the summer of 2006 he was in excellent form. As Ghana’s skipper he led the Black Stars out of a taxing group at their first-ever tournament, even scoring a winner against the United States in the group stage.
2010: Quarter-Final – P5 W2 D2 L1 GF5 GA4
Star Man: He may have missed that crucial last-minute penalty against Uruguay in the dramatic quarter-final at Soccer City, but it’s unlikely Ghana would have got that far without Asamoah Gyan.
The forward scored the extra-time winner in the second leg against the United States, a late winner in the opener against Serbia and the equaliser against Australia.
Monday 16 June, 7 p.m. local time, Estadio das Dunas, Natal, vs. USA
Saturday 21 June, 4 p.m. local time, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, vs. Germany
Thursday 25 June, 1 p.m. local time, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, vs. Portugal