The team: Ghana can still feel rightly aggrieved at how their 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign ended; Luis Suarez’s deliberate handball to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity and Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty was all that stopped the Black Stars from becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. A strong qualifying performance, involving five wins from six in the group stage before a 7-3 aggregate win over Egypt in the playoffs means Ghana should once again be one of the strongest contenders from Africa.
The coach: James Kwesi Appiah
Former Black Stars captain James Kwesi Appiah has worked his way methodically to the top job. Having gained experience coaching the under-23s while also working as assistant coach to the national team from 2007 to 2012, the 53-year-old is now tasked with continuing Ghana’s promising development.
Key player: Asamoah Gyan
His big-money move from Sunderland to Al Ain in 2011 raised plenty of eyebrows, considering he was leaving one of the strongest leagues in the world for the still-developing UAE championship. His scoring rate of more than a goal per game for Al Ain is to be expected considering the quality of the league, so a strong World Cup is vital if he’s to prove he still has what it takes to perform at the highest level.
World ranking: 38
World Cup appearances: 2
Previous best: Quarter-finals in 2010
Qualification: Group winner and playoff winner
Form (qualifiers): WLWWWWWL
Fixtures: June 16 vs. USA; June 21 vs. Germany; June 26 vs. Portugal