Ghana World Cup Team Preview
Odds to Win World Cup: +6600
Things are looking up for African soccer nations thanks to the success that Ghana has had in recent memory. After advancing through the first round of World Cup 2006 in Germany, the Black Stars feel as though they have to have a chance to become the first African team to ever advance further than the quarterfinals of the World Cup this year in South Africa with a home field advantage on their side.
How They Got Here: Ghana became the first team in Africa to qualify for the World Cup (outside of automatic qualifiers, South Africa). The Black Stars won four straight matches in the final qualifying stage without conceding a goal to nail down their place in South Africa, and only a 1-0 loss at Benin kept them from going perfect in that stage.
Player to Watch: Ghana is holding its breath about its superstar M Michael Essien. He injured his knee in January in the African Nations Cup and may or may not be able to play in the World Cup this year. If he plays, it is fairly clear that Essien is one of the best midfielders in the world. For Chelsea in the English Premiership, he has scored 14 goals in 116 appearances. Essien made his debut playing for the Black Stars in 2002, and since that point he has scored nine times in 51 matches, including scoring in 2010 qualifying in September 2009 against the Sudan.
Previous World Cup Experience: Ghana qualified for its first World Cup in 2006 and immediately made a huge impact, beating the Czech Republic 2-0 and following that up with a shocking 2-1 win over the United States to assure progression in Group E in Germany. From that point, the Black Stars were dismantled by Brazil 3-0 in the Round of 16, but they played that day without Essien, who was suspended.
Key to Advancing: If Essien can't go for any part of this tournament, it's going to be imperative for the Black Stars to play solid defense against a group of teams that it will probably be overmatched by. Ghana only allowed eight goals in qualifying, three of which came after a trip to the World Cup was already assured.
Predictions: There is just so much in the way of question marks surrounding Ghana in this tournament that it isn't even funny. Was 2006 an anomaly? Was the easy qualifying effort indicative of the fact that this is a really, really good team or that the competition that it faced was that subpar? If the competition was poor, how will the Black Stars react to facing some of the toughest sides in the world? Will Essien be able to play and will he be effective? We tend to believe that the one constant in this tournament will be that the African nations do have a ton of fans on their side, and we think that that will get Ghana into the second round. Advancement beyond that seems highly unlikely though.
Round 1 Schedule
Serbia vs. Ghana (June 13th, 10:00 AM ET, Tshwane)
Ghana vs. Australia (June 19th, 10:00 AM ET, Rustenburg)
Ghana vs. Germany (June 23rd, 2:30 PM ET, Johannesburg)
All Odds for 2010 World Cup from Brobury Sports
|Odds to Win Group D|
Odds to Advance Group D
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