The Black Stars have not only impressed on the big stage in the last decade, but they have proved mostly diligent in qualifying for the last two FIFA World Cups™. In 2010 preliminaries, Ghana guaranteed their place in the finals after going unbeaten through their opening four matches of the final round. Worryingly for Black Stars supporters, Ghana were shakier in the previous round of qualifying, only topping the group on goal difference over Gabon and Libya after losing a match to both teams. In 2006 qualifying, they breezed through their group, avoiding defeat in each of their last nine matches after dropping the opener at Burkina Faso.
FIFA World Cup finals history
An impressive FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 saw the Black Stars beat the Czech Republic and the USA before being eliminated by Brazil in the second round, but they were the only African team to escape their group. In 2010, they were again the only side from the continent in the knockout rounds, and they equalled Africa’s best-ever performance by beating the USA to reach the quarter-finals. Ghana’s loss in a penalty kick shoot-out to Uruguay in the last eight was perhaps the most dramatic of the tournament, and they may well consider themselves as having unfinished business after Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty kick denied them from becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals of a FIFA World Cup.
The current crop
Keeping in mind a place in the final match of the 2010 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, it has been a good few years for the west Africans, even without the oft-injured Michael Essien, who is still without a doubt the talisman of the team. Speedy, technical and one of the most organised sides on the continent, Ghana’s one problem has been that they sometimes lack a cutting edge up front.
The key players
Besides Essien, three rugged midfielders are sure to hold things tight: Anthony Annan, Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Gyan continues to be vital in the striker spot, but there is also an entire generation of exciting young players coming through that won the U-20 FIFA World Cup in 2009.
Coach: Kwesi Appiah
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 (Quarter-finals), FIFA U-17 World Cup Italy 1991, Ecuador 1995 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 (Winners)
Former stars: Abedi Pele, Samuel Kuffour, Ibrahim Sunday