Much is expected of a talented Ghana side this summer, although the African nation’s route to the knockout stages has been blocked an intimidating Group G.
With a host of the Black Stars in their prime and impressing at club level, this is as good a chance as any for an African nation to make inroads into the business end of a World Cup.
A relatively straightforward qualifying campaign and an established group will mean that Ghana will be a difficult opponent this summer.
A trusted group of players has been selected for the competition in Brazil, with most of the included participants in their prime and between the ages of 23 and 29.
The respective clubs that employ Ghanaian players include European powerhouses in Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, with plenty of experience on offer too.
A number of young wildcards have been thrown in for good measure, with controversial former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan the national captain.
Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse Arnhem), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), André Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan)
Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke), Abdul Majeed Waris (Spartak Moscow), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux).
The squad all-but picked itself, with the same group of players being trusted to represent the national side over the last number of years.
There are no real surprises amongst selection, but Leicester City’s Jeff Schlupp can feel slightly aggrieved at being cut from the preliminary squad – especially due to the lack of viable defensive options at the country’s disposal.
Kwesi Appiah has been in charge of the Ghanaian national side since 2012, progressing from a role with the under-23 outfit.
As the first black manager to lead Ghana to the World Cup, Appiah has recently been handed a new contract and is clearly a man that the national football association hold in high regard.
Relatively brash with his forward-thinking tactics in qualifying, Appiah is expected to show slightly more tactical restraint in Brazil given the quality of the opposition.
Formation / tactics
Ghana more often than not deployed a 4-4-2 formation in the build-up to the World Cup, but it would not be a shock to see one of the frontmen dropped in favour of an additional midfielder in Brazil.
This switch of shape would also allow Appiah to partially nullify a selection headache, with a glut of experienced and able central midfielders in the reckoning for a starting berth.
Most likely it will be Michael Essien and Sully Muntari in the heart of the side, although Rabiu Mohammed has shown solid form when given an opportunity for the Black Stars.
Ahead of this, Kevin-Prince Boateng is expected to command the number ten role behind lone striker Gyan, while there are a number of options for the flanks.
The Ayew brothers are both versatile enough to be used as a winger if needed, while the guile of Christian Atsu and work-rate of Kwadwo Asamoah are also in contention.
No shortage of attacking talent or robust midfielders, it will be at the back that Appiah must get his selection right.
The full-back berths look open for a number of players to stake a claim, with Asamoah’s versatility and experience of playing as a wing-back on occasion for Juventus also making him an option.
Without the ball Ghana will look to press their opposition and will be confident of winning the physical battle against all three of their Group G opponents.
With strength at set-pieces and pace to burn, a leaky rearguard is the only real concern for a dangerous-looking side.
Kevin-Prince Boateng – Although the experience of Essien and Muntari will be key in riling passions in the players around them, there is a case to suggest that both veterans are on the decline at this stage of their careers and lack energy and vitality.
The same cannot be said of Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is undoubtedly talented but also has fiery determination that can be highly contagious amongst team-mates.
The Schalke man will have the dual role of inspiring those less able around him with his work-rate and creating chances for his attacking charges with his range of passing and directness in the final third.
One to watch
Abdul Majeed Waris – Not the typical six foot Ghanaian striking powerhouse, diminutive forward Abdul Majeed Waris has shown that he can offer something out of the ordinary with his pace and dribbling skills.
Invariably used as a second striker during qualification, the Spartak Moscow forward is not guaranteed a place in the starting XI but will feature at some point.
His ability to beat opponents and to get into dangerous areas in the final third will offer an added threat for Ghana. Waris should also be full of confidence after grabbing a glut of goals for loan club Valenciennes over the last six months.
Although in a tough pool, if Ghana can come out of it alive they could well be a side to reach the last eight of the competition – or better.
They play Portugal in the final group game in Brasilia and it could well be a straight shootout for a place in the round of 16.
With plenty of experience and talent in the squad in Brazil, Ghana have no excuses and there is a lot of expectation on their performances this summer.