Ghanaian fans are celebrating again. After missing out on the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018, their team will be back on the biggest of stages at Qatar 2022 – even if they did take a tortuous route to get there.
After crashing out of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations at the group stage earlier this year, Ghana chose to get rid of coach Milovan Rejavac, replacing him with Otto Addo.
The 47-year-old, who played for a number of years in the Bundesliga, including for Borussia Dortmund, took over the reins of a country for whom he had played 15 times and steered them to Qatar courtesy of an away-goals win over arch-rivals Nigeria in the African play-offs.
Ghana have been drawn in Group H along with Portugal, Korea Republic and Uruguay. The last of those three names will have caused more than a few Ghanaians to wince when it came out of the hat.
😊 | Definitely first of many for Antoine Semenyo ⚽️
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 17, 2022
At South Africa 2010, the Black Stars were eliminated in highly-dramatic fashion by Uruguay in the quarter-finals. Ghana therefore have a chance for revenge in what promises to be a tense showdown, particularly since they face one another in the third and final group game, when there could be plenty on the line.
Ghana are the surprise package in what is a very strong group. While their performances en route to the World Cup were up and down to say the least, the squad has an interesting mix of experienced and talented players capable of winning matches at this tournament. It will be up to Addo as coach to find the right blend and give the team the self-belief it needs to shake things up in Qatar.
Ghana‘s Group H matches
Portugal-Ghana | 24 November (19:00 local time)
Korea Republic-Ghana | 28 November (16:00 local time)
Ghana-Uruguay | 2 December (18:00 local time)
Key player: Andre Ayew
One of the most interesting and crucial players in Addo’s squad is Andre Ayew. With 107 international appearances to his name, the Ghana captain is closing in on Asamoah Gyan’s record of 109 caps. The son of the legendary Abedi Pele has also scored 23 international goals, putting him fifth for his country. In 2009, he was part of the team that won the U-20 crown at both continental and world level.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 18, 2022
Facts and figures like these go some way to reflecting the importance of Ayew to the national team. Alongside his younger brother Jordan (81 appearances, 19 goals), himself a critical part of the squad, the 32-year-old will be looking to convert his many years of international experience up front into a haul of goals come the end of November.
Last season, he moved to Qatar to play for Al-Sadd, meaning that he will be well acclimatised to playing conditions as soon as the World Cup gets under way. He is very much Addo’s right-hand man and will play an important role in mentoring the younger squad members, after shining on the world stage as a youth player himself. Back at South Africa 2010, he came second in the voting behind Thomas Muller for the Best Young Player award.
Ghana’s World Cup record
Ghana’s fans had to wait until 2006 for their team to play in a World Cup for the first time. With John Mensah, Stephen Appiah and Asamoah Gyan in their ranks, the Black Stars made it all the way to the Round of 16 in Germany before losing to Brazil. At South Africa 2010, Ghana went one better before falling to Uruguay in the quarter-finals.
At Brazil 2014, Ghana came unstuck in what was a very tough group, but they could hold their heads up high as they were the only team not to lose against eventual champions Germany. In Russia 2018 qualifying, the Black Stars failed to make it past Egypt and had to watch the tournament from home.