While Germany has to make the final of Brazil 2014 to be considered a success, for Ghana fans it is the semi-finals. The transition from former Ghana’s coach Goran Stevanovic to Kwasi Appiah (Ghana’s first local coach in almost a decade) was welcomed with mixed feelings –many grumbled with uncertainty that “the local coach will fail again”.
If Kwasi Appiah had ever been close to being shown the exit as Ghana’s coach it was after a few read little or no detail reasoning into how bad the Mbombela pitch, Nelspruit, contributed to Ghana’s exit against Put’s Burkina Faso in the Afcon 2013, though I personally think subbing off Rabiu Muhammed (who had then been yellow-carded) for out-of-form Derrick Boateng, up till now, remains a much worse tactical decision than playing Kwadwo Asamoah outside his ever-favorable position, the no. 10, against DR. Congo.
Ghana goes into the group stages as the least fancied side to make it from Group G, despite having made it through, arguably, equally tougher groups in the two previous editions. However, for Ghanaians, the current squad represents arguably the best quality materials in recent times. Other than Ghana’s recent threat from set-pieces, if there is one very important thing Kwasi Appiah has integrated into the Ghana side it is the team’s ability to boast of a highly rated bench – only a couple guaranteed an automatic spot in Ghana’s Brazil 2014 team. “After the Cup of Nations, many of them – I took about ten young players who had never been to any competitions before – their confidence levels rose. And since then we’ve started winning all our games”- Kwasi told FIFA.com.
“They have been so competitive, very disciplined, and their willingness to die for the nation is really, really high compared to when I was the assistant in 2010.” – Kwasi added. 31 year old Micheal Essien, who missed the previous edition of the World Cup, reiterates the equality in the team’s individual quality: “The squad for this tournament is the best Ghana has to offer, and the quality in depth is extremely good, especially in midfield. We have multiple options in most positions which are always a plus for any side.”
Like many other Ghanaian fans Essien is careful with his choice of words considering how ruthless the Germans and Portuguese are: “Anything can happen, but we are realistic enough to know we cannot aim that high from the start. Get the first objective of making the second round out of the way, and we will see how far we can go. It will be a journey without doubt, one we are looking forward to.” For USMNT and Klinsmann it is revenge; for Black Stars the status quo continues — the silent mood optimism of making it out of the group, for the third consecutive time, in a third consecutive World Cup.