Team Profile: Ghana
- Coach: Milovan Rajevac
- Goalkeep ers: Richard Kingson (Wigan/England), Daniel Agyei (Liberty Professionals), Stephen Ahorlu (Hearts of Lions)
- Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (FC Basel/Switzerland ), Jonathan Mensah (Grenada/Spain), Lee Addy (Bechem Chelsea), Rahim Ayew (Zamalek/Egypt), Hans Sarpei (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany), John Mensah (Sunderland/England), Isaac Vorsah (Hoffenheim/Germany), John Paintsil (Fulham/England)
- Midfielders: Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan/Italy ), Derek Boateng (Getafe/Spain), Anthony Annan (Rosenborg/Norway), Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese/Italy), Andre Ayew (Arles-Avignon/France), Stephen Appiah (Bologna/Italy), Quincy Owusu Abeyie (Al Sadd/Qatar), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth/England)
- Forwards: Matthew Amoah (NAC Breda/Netherlands) Asamoah Gyan (Rennes/France), Prince Tagoe (Hoffenheim/Germany), Dominic Adiyiah (AC Milan/Italy)
Style of play: Milovan Rajevac will start with a 4-4-2 formation, but don't be surprised if he switches to a 4-5-1 in the middle of the game. With Michael Essien missing through injury, Anthony Annan will act as the midfield anchor, while Kwadwo Asamoah operates as the chief playmaker. Look for him to try to play through balls to forward Asamoah Gyan, who will stand shoulder to shoulder with the last defender and use his speed to break in on goal. Sulley Muntari provides another attacking option in midfield when he drifts from his position on the right wing and cut inside towards the 18-yard box.
1st round matches:
- June 13 vs. Serbia in Pretoria
- June 19 vs. Australia in Rustenburg
- June 23 vs. Germany in Johannesburg
Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): (GK) Richard Kingson - (D) Hans Sarpei, John Pantsil, John Mensah, Samuel Inkoom - (M) Anthony Annan, Derek Boateng, Michael Essien, Kwadwo Asamoah - (F) Asamoah Gyan, Matthew Amoah
- Mix of youth and experience - Serbia-born coach Milovan Rajevac has done a good job of putting together a squad that combines experienced veterans who played at the 2006 World Cup, while at the same time drafting players of the Ghanaian squad that won last year's FIFA U-20 World Cup, including Samuel Inkoom, Jonathan Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah.
- Strong midfield - Three of Ghana's four starting four midfielders - Anthony Annan, Sulley Muntari and Kwadwo Asamoah - would be the envy of almost every other team at the World Cup. Together, this fearless trio combines great technical skill with strength and endurance.
- Momentum - Ghana is still riding high from its successful run in January's African Cup of Nations tournament when it reached the final despite missing several key players. Their surprising performance in Angola has put a strong wind in their sails as they travel to South Africa.
- Injuries - The loss of influential midfielder Michael Essien is a massive blow for Ghana, as it robs them of the services of their best player. Defenders John Mensah and John Pantsil have also been bothered by injury problems. If Mensah and Pantsil fail to gain full fitness before the tournament, Ghana will be in even more trouble.
- Goal-scoring - Aside from the speedy Asamoah Gyan, Ghana doesn't have a proven goal-scorer. Dominic Adiyiah finished as top scorer at last year's U-20 World Cup, but he lacks experience with the senior national team.
- Tough group - A tough opening game against Serbia will be challenging enough for the Black Stars, who will have to face three-time World Cup champion Germany in their final match of the first round. Ghana would be lucky to take just one point from those games.
Players to watch:
- Matthew Amoah - The tricky forward relies on speed to beat his marker and he will stick to the last defender and wait until the right moment when he can release and get into an open space.
- Sulley Muntari - The Inter Milan star is a mound of muscle in the midfield who can outrun and outmuscle opponents. Moreover, Muntari is an intelligent player who always looks to make shrewd passes.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien was originally named to Ghana's squad but then withdrew himself because he failed to recover in time from a knee injury. Striker Junior Agogo was ruled out after undergoing knee surgery in May. He is expected to be out for six months. Defender John Mensah made the team, despite being troubled by a calf problem. Fellow defender John Pantsil has had problems with a leg injury. Coach Milovan Rajevac decided not to pick defender Harrison Afful. Stephen Adams, Eric Addo, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Laryea Kingston, Haminu Draman and Bernard Kumordzi also missed out.
Prognosis: First-round exit. This is a tough one to call. Under normal circumstances, Ghana would be slightly favoured to edge out Serbia for second place in Group D. But without key midfielder Michael Essien, Ghana will find it even harder to beat out Serbia.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #32
- Qualification route: In the second round of the African qualifiers, Ghana won Group 5 ahead of Gabon (both were tied on 12 points). In the final round, Ghana won Group 4 (13 points) ahead of Benin (10 points).
- Key to qualification: Defence. Who said African teams can't defend? The Ghanaians certainly can, something they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in the qualifiers when they conceded just six goals in 11 games. John Mensah is one of the most unheralded defenders in the game today, and makes Ghana a defensive force.
- Crucial result: A 2-0 win over Sudan (Sept. 6, 2009 in Accra) clinched a World Cup spot for Ghana, but it was a vital 2-0 road victory against Mali (June 7, 2009 in Bamako) that put the Black Stars in full control of their group and sent them down the path towards qualification.
- Qualifying record: 11 games played, 8 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses
- Goals for: 20
- Goals against: 8
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Matthew Amoah (5)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- June 1, 2008 - Ghana 3, Libya 0
- June 8, 2008 - Lesotho 2, Ghana 3
- June 14, 2008 - Gabon 2, Ghana 0
- June 22, 2008 - Ghana 2, Gabon 0
- Sept. 5, 2008 - Libya 1, Ghana 0
- Oct. 11, 2008 - Ghana 3, Lesotho 0
- March 29, 2009 - Ghana 1, Benin 0
- June 7, 2009 - Mali 0, Ghana 2
- June 20, 2009 - Sudan 0, Ghana 2
- Sept. 6, 2009 - Ghana 2, Sudan 0
- Oct. 11, 2009 - Benin 1, Ghana 0
- Oct. 15, 2009 - Ghana 2, Mali 2
- Number of World Cup appearances: 1
- All-time record: 4 games played, 2 wins, 0 draws, 2 losses
- Goals for: 4
- Goals against: 3
- Biggest victory: 2-0 vs. Czech Republic in 2006
- Biggest defeat: 3-0 vs. Brazil in 2006
- Overall top scorers: Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan, Stephen Appiah, Haminu Dramani (1 goal)
- Most appearances: Several players (4 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: Never
World Cup track record
- 1930 to 1958 - Did not enter
- 1962 - Did not qualify
- 1966 - Did not enter
- 1970 to 1978 - Did not qualify
- 1982 - Did not enter
- 1986 to 2002 - Did not qualify
- 2006 - Second Round
- FIFA member since: 1958
- Team nickname: The Black Stars
- All-time caps leader: Abedi "Ayew" Pele (73)
- All-time leading scorer: Abedi "Ayew" Pele (33)
- African Nations Cup Champions: 1963, 1965, 1978, 1982
- Under-20 World Champions: 2009
- Under-17 World Champions: 1991, 1995
- African Youth Champions: 1993, 1999, 2009
- Olympic Bronze Medal: 1992
Abedi "Ayew" Pele: One of the greatest African players of all time. A former captain of Ghana's national team, Pele is his country's all-time leading scorer with 33 goals in a record 73 appearances. He was a key figure for Olympique Marseilles when they dominated Ligue 1, the French first division, in the early 1990s with four league titles. Voted African player of the year in 1992.
Tony Yeboah: A member of the national team for 10 years, Yeboah played in three African Nations Cups. Made a name for himself in England with Leeds United, scoring 32 goals in 61 games. Also enjoyed stints in the Bundesliga, the German first division, where he finished league top scorer in 1993 and 1994 with Frankfurt.