Ghana Camp Focus – Adaptation is the key to progression

Ghana are one of 6 teams representing Africa in the World Cup and they travel to South Africa with high expectations, albeit without tenacious midfielder Michael Essien. The Chelsea man has missed the last five months of the season after a serious knee injury and he was not able to regain full fitness to compete in this year’s competition.

However, Coach Milovan Rajevac can be confident the Black Stars will illustrate the fierce passion that saw them become the first African nation to qualify with two games to spare in Africa Group D. They pit their wits against Germany, Serbia and Australia in the finals in what can be considered a very tricky group. Rajevac, who has been at the helm since 2008, will necessitate a hard work ethic from his team and call upon more experienced players such as Inter’s Sulley Muntari, Sunderland’s John Mensah and captain Stephen Appiah to aid Ghana’s up and coming youngsters.

Ghana are playing in only their second World Cup after qualifying for Germany in 2006 where they lost to Brazil in the second round. To repeat this feat of reaching the second round would be an accolade in itself for Rajevac, who was deemed a surprise appointment when he was installed as Coach. Nevertheless the Black Stars are hungry and desperate for success in South Africa and even progressing to the quarter-finals would not raise eyebrows amongst the neutrals.

With this said, what can be deemed a realistic aim for the Africans in this year’s finals? They certainly bring a strong sense of passion and bite to whet the appetite of their fans and Rajevac can add a few more strings to his already impressive looking bow by progressing from a group that looks wide open. The majority of the Ghanaian team are playing at clubs spread all over Europe so they will certainly demonstrate their experience and expertise to adapt accordingly. They have the advantage of being used to playing at high altitude, which some of Europe’s elite will perhaps struggle with. The players are, according to some, finely tuned natural athletes and their fitness is unquestionable.

Therefore expect some spicy displays from the Ghanaians and with top scorer Asamoah Gyan once again leading the front-line we can expect plenty of flair and offensive play. Anything less than qualification from the group stage will be deemed failure amongst the Black Stars faithful.

Germany, Serbia and Australia will not treat Ghana lightly as they are fully aware of their attacking credentials. The ‘perfectly oiled’ German team will even have their efficiency strongly put to the test and it can be awkward to conjure a strategic game plan to outdo the Africans. Defensively Ghana are not as strong as they are in other areas of the team but the strong, physical presence they demonstrate will prove menacing for opposing forwards. Ghana, like many African nations are adapting to international football so rapidly many neutrals feel that is a matter of when, not if an African nation lifts the World Cup.

Victory over Coach Rajevac’s home nation Serbia in their opening fixture will definitely put the Black Stars in good stead for qualification from Group D and a possible encounter with one of the tournament favourites England could be a real prospect.

It is essential for Ghana to adapt quickly after losing box to box midfielder Essien and this provides a perfect chance for one of their younger players to step up to the mark and shine on the World stage. Maybe Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince Boateng can replicate his fine form in what was a dismal season for the FA Cup finalists and stake a claim as a suitable replacement for Essien.

Consequently the Black Stars must be considered one of the favourites to squeeze through what will be a hotly-contested group and from there anything is possible. They are expecting a strong following and many neutrals will be keeping a close eye on the progression of the Africans because after all, they are still young pups on the international scene.

It is crucial Rajevec and the Ghanaian team keep their feet firmly on the ground and do not get ahead of themselves mentally as this so often can prove a team’s downfall. Expect plenty of hustle and drama from the Africans and if they are quick in adapting to the loss of ‘Bison’ Essien, a charge towards the latter stages of the tournament is a real likelihood.

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