Ghana narrowly missed out on becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup in 2010, when they lost 4-2 on penalties to Uruguay in the quarter-finals in South Africa.
But they were only denied victory in extra time by a Luis Suarez handball on the line. The striker was red-carded, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot-kick and the cruel defeat — and Suarez’s reaction to Gyan’s miss — sparked anarchy in Africa, with the entire continent behind the team’s memorable run.
The Black Stars will be out to avenge that cruel defeat in Brazil and, in midfielders Michael Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, they remain well equipped to do just that.
With Gyan still up front and 2010 assistant coach Kwesi Appiah now the manager, the mission to overturn the injustice is particularly personal.
But Africa’s brightest hope have ironically drawn the hardest group of all participating African nations, with the USA, Germany and Portugal their rivals in Group G.
While offensively astute, defensively Ghana leave much to be desired. Centre-back Jerry Akaminko’s ankle injury in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Holland last week has further weakened the back-line and, while Samuel Inkoom is a worthy replacement, the questionable omission of experienced former captain John Mensah could now come under further scrutiny. The fact he has been ignored adds to the problematic situation Ghana face, in that they lack quality beyond and behind their star midfield.
Gyan’s 2012 move to the UAE’s Al Ain from English Premier League side Sunderland bemused many and, while it doesn’t seem to have affected his national team performances, playing in a developing league over one of the best in Europe must affect his ability on the world stage.
With that in mind, although motivated by their unjust 2010 exit, Ghana probably lack the credentials to get out of a very difficult group this time around.