Ghana Preview – Group Underdogs To Qualify!
World Cup 2014
I assess Ghana’s chances at the 2014 World Cup as the Black Stars look to improve upon their 2010 quarter-final appearance…
A narrow win over Namibia and recent defeat to Montenegro since World Cup qualification was confirmed offers little encouragement that Ghana can avenge the perceived injustice – at the hands of Luis Suarez and Uruguay – of the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals. However, the emphatic nature of their 7-3 aggregate win against Egypt in the African World Cup play-off tie suggests otherwise.
Striker Asamoah Gyan is just one goal away from equalling Ghana’s all-time scoring record. Since leaving Sunderland and moving to Al Ain he has averaged more than a goal per game, but the lack of top quality football is likely to hinder him when taking the step up to the world stage this summer.
After topping African Group G with 15 points, 18 goals scored and just three conceded from their six games, Ghana progressed to the play-off stages in buoyant mood. And they carried that form into their two-legged clash with Egypt to win the first leg in Kumasi 6-1 and all but confirm their qualification for Brazil 2014.
Gyan scored four goals in the group stages then a further two in the play-off matches. Sulley Muntari has assumed penalty duty after Gyan relinquished the privilege following his troubles from the spot at South Africa 2010.
Ghana’s strength undoubtedly lies in the middle of the park where the likes of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah and Kevin-Prince Boateng, amongst others, provide an ideal mix of youth, quality and experience.
As mentioned above, Asamoah Gyan’s lack of top quality football could be an issue when he is asked to up his game to the highest level from the outset this summer.
Placed alongside the FIFA ranked number 2 and 3 in Group G, the balls were not kind to Ghana when the draw was made back in December 2013. However, there is encouragement to be drawn from the fact that they take on USA in their opening fixture and therefore have an opportunity to approach matches against Germany then Portugal on the front foot.
At odds of 5/2 Ghana are understandable outsiders in the betting to qualify for the knockout stages. But if they can kick off with a win against USA then they have very chance of upsetting those odds, and, given that they are favourites to beat the Americans, then it may be worth a play on them going through to the last 16.
Gyan is made 5/2 favourite to be the top Ghanaian scorer in Brazil this summer, but I’ve already made clear my concerns about the former Sunderland man and his short price means there is value elsewhere in this market. Kevin Prince-Boateng is a lively selection at odds of 10/1, but my money is on his former AC Milan teammate Sulley Muntari at the same price.