U.S., Ghana to meet for third time in as many World Cups
BY PATRICK NYARKO For Sun-Times Media June 15, 2014 8:32PM
Ghana's forward Asamoah Gyan (C) takes part in a training session at the Das Dunas stadium, Natal on June 15, 2014, on the eve of their 2014 FIFA World Cup match against USA. AFP PHOTO/Carl de SouzaCARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Asamoah Gyan: A striker whose confidence is off the charts. Missed a penalty kick to take Ghana into the semifinals in 2010 and will be looking for redemption.
Kwadwo Asamoah: A creative midfielder who had a great season with Italian giant Juventus and is looking to build up his stock.
Michael Essien: The oldest player (31) on a young team will be looking to rediscover the form that made him one of the best players in the world a few years ago.
Updated: June 16, 2014 11:39AM
The most exciting sporting event in the world is here, and once again the soccer gods have chosen what seems to be their favorite matchup — Ghana vs. USA — on Monday.
The game will mark the third time in as many World Cups the nations have faced each other at the highest stage of international soccer, with Ghana eliminating the United States in the two previous tournaments.
Both teams have factors that can propel them to victory. For Ghana, the fact that it has beaten the United States twice already should give it the confidence to do it again. But complacency exists in soccer, and, in my experience, the hardest thing to do is beat a team three consecutive times. There is no doubt the United States has revenge on its mind.
While the Ghanaians rely heavily on individual talent and athletic ability, I think the United States has an edge tactically, which might prove to be the decisive factor. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s success and experience as a manager gives his side that tactical edge it might need against a Ghanaian team that’s arguably better than the squad that almost went to the semifinals four years ago in South Africa.
Though Ghana won its last game handily (4-0 against South Korea), a lot of players were often caught out of position. If the United States can keep possession and exploit those gaps, it will have a chance to come away with three points.
Ghana, on the other hand, has to do what it does best — counterattack often and finish its opportunities — to have a chance of getting the result.
Both teams face a daunting task to get out of this tough group. But it’s certain neither side is looking anywhere beyond that opening game, knowing a result can be a huge step toward advancement.
Patrick Nyarko, a native of Ghana, is a midfielder for the Fire.