The Lowdown on Ghana’s World Cup Group
Ghana are hoping for a chance of redemption after the excruciating heartbreak & scandal of the quarter-finals of WC2010. However only the naïve would deny we were handed anything but a mountainous task, with Group G being the only group of WC2014 in which all four teams had reached the knockout stage of WC2010. Let us review the enemies of progress which stand in the way between Ghana& progression to the knockout stages…
TEAM ONE: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (FIFA Ranking: 13th)
The opponents against which Ghana have had their finest moments
Defeated twice by Ghana, the USA will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of being third-time lucky against a Ghana team quickly becoming an established thorn in the side of the Americans.
Tottenham legend & former World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann is the coach who may argue that with this squad he has the best chance of succeeding where others have failed. The midfield is USA’s strong point, run by midfield maestros Michael Bradley & Jermaine Jones. The big question mark is the defence – they haven’t settled on an established defensive strategy or partnership throughout this qualifying campaign, and have arguably been left mostly untested over the past couple of years – so regardless of their midfield talent, and the scoring prowess of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donavan& Jozy Altidore, who knows how the defence will hold up against Baby Jet and Co.?
TEAM TWO: GERMANY (FIFA Ranking: 2nd)
Boateng v Boateng
We meet another familiar face in Germany, who defeated us by a single goal in WC2010. The Germans are known for efficiency and technical prowess. They have usurped Spain as the Kings of the Continent, culminating in last year’s Champions League Final being an All-German affair.
Germany is a team which must surely be counted as not only favourites to win the group, but also amongst the handful of favourites to win the trophy outright. Amongst an embarrassment of youthful footballing riches in the form of players such as Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller & Mario Goetze, is one Jerome Boateng. Germany v Ghana will be Boateng v Boateng II, as the brothers face-off once again in an international battle on the biggest stage of them all. It is destiny’s cruel joke that the Boateng Brothers were handed this draw just as the bad blood which had begun between them during the build-up of Ghana/Germany I at WC2010 was beginning to settle…
TEAM THREE: PORTUGAL (FIFA Ranking: 5th)
Admit it. When the Portuguese were drawn, he was the first person to come to mind. And with good reason. Portugal is an admirable footballing nation. However amongst their ranks is a man who in my opinion is the most complete footballer today: Portugal’s joint top all-time goalscorer – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo aside, studying this Portugal team gives room for hope and optimism. They are noted for playing a possession game, and hold a mass of experience in their ranks. This Portuguese ‘Golden Generation’ reached the last 4 of WC2006, and the semi-finals of Euro 2012. However, we must keep in mind recent history – if not for an amazing 4-goal salvo from Cristiano, they may not have even qualified against Sweden. And let’s not forget that World Cup qualification was a struggle, with draws against the ‘might’ of ‘giants’ such as Northern Ireland and Israel. This is the team against which I feel our hopes for progression hang upon – this will be the deciding match.
Against the backdrop of a legendary rivalry, international success has been argued as the yardstick which will ultimately prove who is the greater player: Messi or Ronaldo. For Ghana’s sake, I hope Ronaldo waits four more years before he hands his ballot paper in…
Having been in the ‘Group of Death’ at each of its two World Cups, Ghana should be feared and not fear anyone. We have stood tall amongst giants in the past. Ghana is a nightmare for many if not most of the teams – a peerlessly powerful team with blistering pace & silky skill in all quarters; a beautiful oxymoron of footballing ability. We did not wish for so many years to be a part of the World Cup party to face nobodies – we wished to put our best against the best there is. The Brazil of Africa are going to their second home in 2014 to make that statement clear.
Regardless of the opposition, whatever happens, I am confident that the world will once again fall in love with the Black Stars.
Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)