Ghana: Africa’s BestBy: Juan Mesa
HOW DID THEY GET HERE: Ghana, who kicked the US out of South Africa 2010 in extra time during the Round of 16, proved to be an American nightmare after beating former USMNT coach Bob Bradley’s Egypt in the final round of the African qualifiers. In the previous stage, Ghana ended up on top of Group D after earning 15 out of 18 points.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Ghana is arguably the most balanced African team. The Black Stars have no loose ends between the lines. Their strength lies in their physical style of playing, but having players like Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Jonathan Mensah and Michael Essien playing in top leagues has also made them tactical and astute.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Ghana is an African powerhouse, but is still looking for victories over historic teams like Brazil, Italy or Germany. The team seems to hit a roadblock by focusing excessively on counterattacks and over-respecting its rivals.
WORLD CUP CHANCES: Ghana has succeeded in the group stage in the past two World Cups, and there is little to think that they won’t do it again in Brazil. Facing the United States in the first game seems like a good start for Ghana, after victories against them in the past two World Cups. If they get points against Germany and Portugal in the next two games, they will earn a spot in the Round of 16. In 2010, Ghana reached quarterfinals—a feat they could easily repeat.
FUN FACT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Ghana’s soccer gained world notoriety in the early ’90s, when the Black Stars won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1991 and in 1995, and came second in the 1993 FIFA U-20 World Cup. However, the senior team didn’t make it to the main event during those years, and had its first World Cup in Germany 2006.
IF THEY WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE: “You’ll Find a Way” by Santigold.