[WORLD CUP 2014: Ghana]
Our Group of Death is their Group of Death. Ghana has reached the knockout phase of both World Cup finals in which it has participated, and
it's been tipped as the likeliest African team to one day challenge for the title, but Friday's draw that put the Black Stars in Group G with Germany, Portugal and their old foe, the USA, complicates
matters for next summer. USA-Ghana:
June 16, 6 p.m. ET, Natal
“Ghana is in the Group of Death," star Asamoah Gyan
told a Ghanaian radio station Friday night, "but we will get there."
Ghana beat the USA, 2-1, at the 2006 World Cup and did the same four years ago to send the
USA packing in the round of 16. Veterans like Michael Essien
, Sulley Muntari
and Gyan, whose overtime goal beat the USA
in South Africa, should all return for their third World Cups, but it's the Black Stars' young guns who make them Africa's best hopes -- if they can get out of Group G.
In the first leg
of the final round of qualifying against Egypt, Ghana was without starters Jonathan Mensah
and John Boye
at center back,
but the backline of Samuel Inkoom
, Daniel Opare
, Jerry Akaminko
and Rashid Sumaila
did just fine. Their average age is just 23, and only Inkoom is a holdover from 2010 when his first World Cup appearance came in the round of 16
against the USA.
The first leg in Kumasi was a testament to Ghana's attacking strength. The Black Stars won, 6-1, but could have scored another half dozen goals. Gyan loves playing with
22-year-old Abdul Majeed Waris
with whom he teamed up for three goals against Egypt.
"Playing with Waris is good for me," says Gyan, whose overtime
goal eliminated the USA four years ago. "He understands me and I also understand his play. He is a very talented young player who always listens to what I tell him and he does just that."
But Waris is just one of many young Ghanaian attackers. Andre
and Jordan Ayew
, sons of the legendary Abedi Pele
, are 23 and 22, respectively, while Christian Atsu
, who also scored against Egypt, is only 21. Still coming through
the pipeline are the youngsters from Ghana's exciting team that finished second at this year's Under-20 World Cup.
Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Richard Kingson (Doxa). Defenders:
Samuel Inkoom (Dnipro), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), David Addy (Vitoria Guimaraes), John Boye (Rennes), Jerry Akaminko (Eskisehirspor), Rashid Sumaila
(Mamelodi Sundowns), Mohammed Awal (Maritzburg United), Jonathan Mensah (Evian). Midfielders:
Michael Essien (Chelsea), Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal) Sulley
Muntari (AC Milan), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang Badu (Udinese), Kevin Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan). Forwards:
Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Abdul Majeed Waris (Spartak Moscow), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Jordan Ayew (Marseille), Mahatma Otoo (Sogndal), Christian Atsu