To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here’s the Ghana World Cup preview — they’ll play in Group H against Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay.
World Cup appearances: 4th
Best finish: Quarterfinals (2010)
How they got here: The margin was as thin as Jordan Ayew’s hair. The Black Stars advanced from group play by scoring one more goal than South Africa, and then they beat mighty Nigeria in the playoffs on away goals.
Coach: Otto Addo (Ghanaian)
Strongest XI: (4-2-3-1) Lawrence Ati-Zigi; Baba Rahman, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Denis Odoi; Thomas Partey, Elisha Owusu; Jordan Ayew, Mohammed Kudus, André Ayew; Iñaki Williams
Injuries: Jojo Wollacott (finger), Richard Ofori (knee), Iddrisu Baba (hamstring)
What’s to like: The Ayew brothers — combining for 189 caps and 43 goals — just won’t quit, and they’ve been joined by Iñaki Williams in attack. The Athletic Bilbao striker previously earned one cap with Spain but made the switch to represent his parent’s country, and he’s a constant threat that creates openings for others with his industrious work up top.
In the middle of the park, Thomas Partey is one of the world’s finest defensive midfielders but also a goalscoring threat for the Black Stars with 14 in 40 appearances. At the back, there’s plenty of experience and talent in Baba Rahman (Reading), Daniel Amartey (Leicester City) and Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg).
Manager Otto Addo was installed after a disastrous AFCON tournament that included a humiliating defeat to the Comoros, so beating Nigeria in the qualifying playoffs represented an incredible turnaround under his leadership.
What’s not to like: Ghana’s No. 1 goalkeeper, Jojo Wollacott, is out with a finger injury. The man who would replace him, Richard Ofori, is also out. Mallorca’s Iddrisu Baba had also emerged as Partey’s partner in the heart of midfield, but he’s also out with an injury.
That’s going to create a shakeup in the starting XI, and there are questions as to how Addo best integrates Williams and Tariq Lamptey (a former England youth international) after they declared for Ghana. This is Addo’s first managerial job after spending a long time in Germany as an assistant/talent coach, so he’ll be under a lot of pressure to get things right in what’s ultimately a very unforgiving group.
X-Factor: Kamal Sowah. Club Brugge shocked Europe by advancing to the Champions League last 16, and 22-year-old Sowah was a captivating part of that with goals against Porto and Atlético Madrid.
Best hair: Gideon Mensah
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Most likely to fuck it all up: The keeper position makes for nervous reading, and Addo has brought pressure on himself by leaving off proven talent Jeffrey Schlupp and emerging talent Joseph Paintsil.
What will make this a good World Cup: Heading into the final group stage match against Uruguay with a chance of reaching the last 16.
Bonus prediction: Ghana finishes runner-up in Group H. The USA finishes runner-up in Group B. The two teams meet in the semifinals because that’s the way World Cups work.
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