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Ghana profile

Thursday, April 29, 2010



Profile



The only African side to get out of the group stage at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and the first to qualify for South Africa 2010, Ghana are anxious to prove themselves as the cream of the continent. Though this will be only their second appearance at the finals, the Black Stars have enjoyed considerable success at all levels of international football. They have won four CAF African Cup of Nations titles, though none since 1982, as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups, and they became the first African team to lift the FIFA U-20 World Cup when they beat Brazil on penalties in October 2009. With added experience since their 2006 adventure, where they lost to Italy and Brazil but beat the Czech Republic and USA, Ghana are set to be a major threat at Africa's first FIFA World Cup.



The road to South Africa

Ghana guaranteed their place in the finals after going unbeaten through their opening four matches of the final round. They did not concede a goal in the group until a shock 1-0 defeat at Benin, but that came after they had already qualified. The key stretch for the west Africans came in June 2009 when they won 2-0 away to both Mali and Sudan, with Germany 2006 veteran Matthew Amoah scoring a goal in the first match and both in the second. Ironically, Ghana were shakier in the previous round of qualifying, only topping the group on goal difference over Gabon and Libya after losing a match to both teams.



The star players

Although Ghana lack the attacking firepower of many African sides, they rely most prominently on a world class midfield led by Michael Essien. The Chelsea man usually pairs with Sulley Muntari and captain Stephen Appiah to form a formidable engine room capable of both stifling attacks and creating them. Two of the trio Asamoah Gyan, Junior Agogo and Matthew Amoah usually operate in attack, while the England-based duo of John Mensah and John Paintsil keep the back tight in front of another Premier League player, goalkeeper Richard Kingson.



The coach

With Claude Le Roy's departure after a relatively disappointing third-place finish at the 2008 Cup of Nations on home soil, Milovan Rajevac took over leadership of the Black Stars. A former defender that played his career in Yugoslavia, the Serbian was best known for a brief coaching stint with Red Star Belgrade as well as leading perennial Serbian strugglers FK Borac to their first-ever qualification for a European tournament.



Record



* Ghana were the youngest team at Germany 2006, with an average age of just under 24 years.

* Asamoah Gyan scored the fastest goal of the 2006 FIFA World Cup after 68 seconds in their 2-1 win over Czech Republic. It was also Ghana's first-ever goal in the finals.

* Ghana lost 3-0 to Brazil in the second round of Germany 2006, but they were without the talismanic Michael Essien, who was suspended.



What they said

"This team is very hungry to play in the finals again. My players are aware of what they can achieve, and we have the quality to go far. I am very confident about the future," Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac.

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