Ghana Black Stars poised to shine at W/Cup

APA - Dakar (Senegal)

As the creme de la creme of world football meet in Qatar from November 20 to December 18, 2022, APA gives a lowdown of Africa’s five representatives at the showpiece event as APA beams the spotlight on Ghana.

By Ibrahima Dione

As worthy ambassadors of their country, the Black Stars stepped on Qatari soil in traditional dress. 

The Fugu, worn by the inhabitants of northern Ghana on solemn occasions, was on full display. 

This woven loincloth symbolizes strength, courage and leadership.

Ghana's Black Stars are sending a non-verbal message that they are not coming to Doha to make up the numbers. 

Will coach Otto Addo's charges be able to live up to their ambition? 

“It is possible for us to go far in this tournament. But before that, we have to get out of this difficult group,” said Nuhu Adams, a journalist with GhanaSoccernet.

For this World Cup, exceptionally programmed in the middle of the sports season, Ghana are in Group H with Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay. 

The Black Stars will face successively the Portuguese Seleção (November 24), the Korean Taeguk Warriors (November 28) and the Uruguayan Celeste (December 2).

“It’s a very tough group. Portugal and Uruguay are the favorites, but Ghana has the quality to compete with those two countries, as well as South Korea. We can qualify for the second round. It all depends on how we start the tournament,” said Adams, who also works for Nhyira FM.

Ghana, a great African footballing nation, discovered the World Cup late in life, having reached the finals three times (2006, 2010 and 2014).

Absent from the edition held in Russia four years ago, the Black Stars have written in South Africa one of the most beautiful pages of the continent in the competition.

On July 2, 2010 at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, Ghana took on Uruguay for a spot in the last four. 

Sulley Ali Muntari’s long-range shot (45’) gave the Black Stars the lead. 

Uruguay’s Diego Forlan, at the top of his game at the time, wiped the lead with a magnificent free kick (55’).

Unable to break the deadlock in regular time, the two teams went into extra time. 

In the final moments of the game, Ghana threw all their strength into an attack that ended with a header from Dominic Adiyiah which was heading to the back of the neck with Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera beaten. But in a desperate bid to stop the ball hititng the net South American center-forward Luis Suarez used both hands to punch it away, earning a straight red card (120’).

The Black Stars were then awarded a penalty. Gyan Asamoah, providential goal scorer in that World Cup, ran to hit it. But his attempt and the hopes of an entire continent was shattered on the crossbar. 

The sacrifice of Suarez the cannibal, nicknamed so because of his propensity to bite opponents on the field had a happy ending for his country. 

He celebrated wildly in the corridor leading to the dressing room. The hapless and crestfallen Gyan held his head. He may not have known it at the time, but the Ghanaian would later carry this failure with him for the rest of his life. In the penalty shootout, Celeste won four goals to two and moved to the semifinal of the 2010 World Cup.

Twelve years later, Ghana is to meet Uruguay again. 

“Football is not about revenge. We just want to win this game. I just hope that the result we get is enough to qualify for the next round,” said Captain Andre Ayew, who was on the bench in 2010.

An equation with many unknowns

Ghana arrives in Qatar without great assurance. 

The Black Stars crashed out of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after defeats against Morocco and Comoros and a draw with Gabon. 

It was the first time Ghana went out after the group stage in 23 appearances at the tournament and the Black Stars Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac was axed. 

His assistant, Otto Addo (47), took over. The former Ghanaian international qualified his country for the World Cup by beating Nigeria in the playoffs (0-0, 1-1) thanks to the away goal rule.

“We really don’t know which Ghana team will show up in Qatar. There are many new players. We are waiting for the match against Portugal. Then we will have a better idea of this selection,” said Gary Al-Smith, a journalist at JoyNews. 

According to him, Ghana does not have a well-oiled team like Senegal but they are a very united team with players who believe in their ability.

To rebuild a competitive team, Ghana has brought in binational players like Inaki Williams and Tariq Lamptey who “clearly raise the level,” says Nuhu Adams. 

''In addition, we have Alexandre Djiku who is very consistent in defense. In the middle, Thomas Partey of Arsenal is the most prominent at the moment. He is a world-class player. In attack, Mohammed Kudus from Ajax Amsterdam is in good shape. As the Dutch club’s top scorer in the Champions League this season (4 goals), he has been voted man of the match several times,” said Al-Smith.

The journalist of GhanaSoccernet argues that “the group of 26 players in Qatar is one of the best that Ghana has assembled in recent years. Even if there are some questionable absences, it is a 90 percent logical list.”

In preparation for the Qatari World Cup, the Black Stars beat Nicaragua (0-1, September 27) and Switzerland (2-0, November 17) in pre-World Cup friendlies. 

“People had very little hope but the situation has changed since the victory against the Nati,” notes Adams.

Ghana's 26-man squad for the W/Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Danlad Ibrahim (Asante Kotoko, Ghana), Lawrence Ati Zigi (FC St. Gallen, Switzerland) and Manaf Nurudeen (Kas Eupen, Belgium).

Defenders (9): Abdul Baba Rahman (Reading, England), Gideon Mensah (Auxerre, France), Denis Oddoi (Club Brugge, Belgium), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton, England), Alidu Seidu (Clermont, France), Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg, France), Mohamed Salisu (Southampton, England), Daniel Amartey (Leicester, England) and Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo, Spain).

Midfielders (5): Thomas Partey (Arsenal, England), Daniel-Kofi Kyereh (Freiburg, Germany), Salis Abdul Samed (RC Lens, France), Mohammed Kudus (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Elisha Owusu (La Gantoise, Belgium).

Forwards (9): Andre Ayew (Al Sadd, Qatar), Kamal Sowah (Club Brugge, Belgium), Antoine Semenyo (Bristol, England), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace, England), Issahaku Abdul Fatawu (Sporting, Portugal), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Stade Rennais, France), Iñaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao, Spain), Daniel Afriyie (Hearts of Oak, Ghana), Osman Bukari (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia).

Coach: Otto Addo (Ghana)

Ghana’s schedule for the 2022 World Cup

Day 1: Thursday, November 24, 2022

16:00 (Universal Time) Portugal/Ghana

Day 2: Monday, November 28, 2022

13:00 (GMT) South Korea/Ghana

Day 3: Friday, December 2, 2022

15:00 (GMT) Ghana/Uruguay


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