Soccer News of Sat, 31 May 201422
World Cup Group G in focus: Ghana targets semi-final
Anger and frustration of being denied a semi-final spot at the last World Cup will be key to Ghana’s quest at the 2014 finals in Brazil.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s handball on the line kept out Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound shot that had it gone in, would have meant a victory for Ghana in their quarter-final tie against Uruguay in South Africa at the 2010 finals.
Asamoah Gyan missed the spot-kick and Ghana went on to lose in the post-match shootout to miss out on becoming the first African side to reach the last four at the tournament.
The result initially hindered the side’s progress but now it serves as motivating spur for the west Africans, notably in its successful quest to qualify again.
It will, of course, be one of the factors that mean Ghana is regarded as the strongest of the five African qualifiers for Brazil.
An experienced line-up with plenty of midfield and attacking talent ensured an impressive road to Brazil, including a 6-1 demolition of Egypt in the first-leg of the play-off that gave stark notice of Ghana’s potential to be a huge threat at the finals.
Players like Juventus’ Kwadwo Asamoah and AC Milan’s Sulley Muntari have since been supplemented by the return from self-imposed exile of Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The inexperience of coach Kwesi Appiah, a quiet figure behind the scene, and a poor defence could count against the Black Stars.
Appiah was appointed head coach after serving as the assistant to several of his predecessors.
The 53-year-old was handed the permanent role following the sacking of Serbian Goran Stevanovic but had also been caretaker for several games after the 2010 World Cup.
He was an international defender in his playing days with Asante Kotoko and then worked in the Ghana Football Association’s coaching structures.
At under-23 level, he coached Ghana to the gold medal at last All-Africa Games in Maputo in 2011.
The star man
Essien missed out on the last World Cup because of injury, which has plagued his recent career.
The Chelsea star then asked to be no longer selected for Ghana as he sought to concentrate on his club career.
However now very much a regular player for AC Milan, he has returned to the national team fold and showed no ill effects from two seasons with little club action as he provided the midfield momentum for Ghana to eliminate Egypt in the World Cup play-offs.
The 30-year-old, whose first serious knee injury in 2008 was suffered playing for Ghana, competed for his country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
He spent last season at Real Madrid on-loan with Jose Mourinho, who brought him back to Chelsea in the summer.
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