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The 2022 World Cup puts Ghana on a collision path with Uruguay yet again but this time, in a group-stage fixture scheduled for 2nd December. Before that, Ghana will play Portugal and South Korea in Group H. The Black Stars faced Portugal in the 2014 World Cup but lost 2-1 to the Selecao das Quinas. The matchup against Uruguay evokes bitter memories of the 2010 World Cup when Luiz Suarez handed a ball that was headed straight for the back of the net.
Ghana was only a shot away from being the first African team to make it to the FIFA World Cup semis in 2010. However, their hopes were quickly dimmed in a penalty shootout that ended in a 4-2 victory in favour of Uruguay. Ghana’s miseries started with Suarez’s handball in the extra time. The Uruguayan forward was sent off for the offence in the 120+1 minute. The Black Stars won the first half of the game through Sulley Muntari who was assisted by Asamoah Gyan for the goal, but Uruguay equalized through Diego Forlan 10 minutes into the second half.
Otto Addo taking a bold step into the World Cup with young players
A short-lived Ghana’s campaign in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was even a bigger disappointment as they bagged 1 point only in the group stages. The Black Stars didn’t make it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They will face Portugal, a team that they faced in the 2014 World Cup. Uruguay’s 2010 matchup against Ghana is haunting enough for Ghana. But even with a revenge mission in the offing, will Ghana go past one of the toughest groups in the 2022 World Cup that also features South Korea?
Ghana’s new head coach, Otto Addo, doesn’t look the ilk that shies away from testing waters. His experiment with new call-ups has worked some magic for the Black Stars. Addo’s tactical approach in the last World Cup qualifying fixture is something Ghanaians hope will work in Qatar. Youngsters Felix Afena-Gyan and Mohammed Kudus who started in the game against Nigeria have both made it to the World Cup squad.
Felix Afena-Gyan is only 19 years and his selection in the World Cup squad is only one of the many surprises. Ghana’s previous coaches always relied on more experienced players. However, Addo’s inclusion of several young players in his 2010 World Cup squad negates that tradition. Felix Afena-Gyan of Cremonese, 22-year-old Kamal Sowah of Club Brugge, 23-year-old Osman Bukari of Red Star Belgrade, Tariq Lamptey (22), and 20-year-old Kamaldeen Sulemana of Rennes are some of the youngsters who have made it to Ghana’s attack-minded World Cup squad. Others are Antoine Semenyo (22 years) and 18-year-old Abdul Fatawu Issahaku.
Will Ghana’s defensive setup help them reach [layoffs?
Addo’s defence was particularly the highlight of Ghana’s World Cup qualifier against Nigeria. The Black Stars looked more solid at the back. Ghana’s defence was in shambles in the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), which largely contributed to their early exit from the tournament.
A switch between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formation seemed to have bolstered Ghana’s defence in the World Cup qualifiers, so we don’t expect much difference from the approach when Addo lines his open against Portugal in the World Cup opener on 24th November.
Moreover, Ghana’s 2022 World Cup squad is not devoid of experienced players who are expected to support the new generation of players. Ayew brothers (Jordan and Andre), Denis Odoi, Inaki Williams, Thomas Partey and others are expected to strongly feature in the starting eleven.