Ghana will be appearing at their third finals - one of only five teams to have achieved that (three others could still follow suit if they qualify for the 2012 finals). Although they have previously failed to advance to the knockout stage, the Black Maidens have achieved some notable results, beating Brazil in 2010 and holding eventual winners Korea DPR to a credible 1-1 draw in New Zealand in 2008. At the same tournament, they secured a victory against Costa Rica, but just crashed out with four points.
For coach Dramani Mas-ud Didi, who was named after the great Brazilian midfielder and in 2010 spent several weeks attached as a coach to Premier League giants Manchester City, the finals in Azerbaijan offer an opportunity to go further than the Black Maidens managed at their two previous outings. "We will try to beat the standard set by the classes of 2008 and 2010. Our first target will be to go beyond the group stage and if we manage that, we will adjust,” he said before noting that previous teams fell short because women's football in the country lacked the foundation necessary to challenge on a global level. "That is changing and I think we now can realistically dream of doing well."
"I believe women's football in Ghana has a great future. We need to continue developing the sport, but that is taking place throughout Africa," Dramani said. "Qualifying for Azerbaijan will act as a motivating factor, and the exposure will boost women's football. The team will be seen as role models and does a lot towards changing perceptions that the sport is for boys. Women play football at every level and on every corner."
Facts and figures
Elizabeth Addo, Mercy Myles, Juliet Acheampong, Florence Dadson, Alice Danso, Sherifatu Sumaila
Priscilla Okyere, Victoria Agyei, Sherifatu Sumaila
The west Africans faced Cameroon in the first round and secured two victories, beating their rivals 1-0 away and then following that up with a comfortable 4-0 win at home. They then had to take on fellow 2010 qualifiers South Africa for a place at the finals and played to a goalless draw in South Africa. A convincing 5-1 win in Ghana secured a third appearance at the finals for the Black Maidens.
The numbers game
10 - The number of goals that the Black Maidens scored in their four 2012 qualifying matches, conceding just one in a 5-1 victory against South Africa.
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