Expectations for Ghana’s upcoming FIFA World Cup campaign hadn’t been high. The Black Stars are coming off the back of one of the worst runs of forms in recent memory. Qatar 2022 marks their first appearance at football’s biggest party in eight years.
In qualifying for the tournament four years ago, the West Africans won just once, snapping their streak of qualifying for three consecutive World Cups.
In 2019, they exited the Africa Cup of Nations at the round of 16 stage, their worst result in 12 years. But even that pails in comparison to this year's AFCON in Cameroon, where Ghana suffered a 3-2 defeat to lowly Comoros and exited the tournament at the group stage.
Online bookmakers such as FanDuel, which is providing free bets on the World Cup, hadn’t expected the Black Stars to pull up any trees in the Arabian desert. But could these two new additions make all the difference?
Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams is a household name in the footballing world. The Bilbao-born striker has made 348 appearances for the Basque side since his debut back in 2014, including a record-breaking 241 games (and counting) in a row, meaning that he hasn’t missed a game in over SIX years. During that time frame, he has netted 78 goals and provided 50 assists, solidifying himself as the first name on Ernesto Valverde’s teamsheet.
Williams’ parents are both Ghanaian, hence he qualifies for the Black Stars national team setup, despite making a 30-minute substitute appearance for Spain in a friendly against Bosnia back in 2016. He confirmed that he would be making himself available to Ghana back in August and is expected to lead the line in Qatar.
Right-back Tariq Lamptey has been one of the outstanding players for Premier League side Brighton in recent years.
The pacey 22-year-old has made 56 English top-flight appearances, despite his tender years, and had been expected to break into the England squad in the not-so-distant future.
Gareth Southgate isn’t short of right-backs however, and he famously took no less than four to the European Championships last summer. As such, that opened the door for the Black Stars to pull off a major coup.
And it’s very likely that the English will regret their decision. Of their four superstar right-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kyle Walker have all suffered injuries in recent weeks, meaning that Kieran Trippier is all that remains. Whether they return to fitness in time for the showdown in Qatar remains to be seen.