By Lorraine Droney
Manager: Kwesi Appiah
Squad: Goalkeepers: Fatau Dauda (Orlando Pirates), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset), Stephen Adams (Aduana Stars)
Defenders: Samuel Inkoom (Platanias), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege), Harrison Afful (Esperance), John Boye (Rennes), Jonathan Mensah (Evian), Rashid Sumalia (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Michael Essien (AC Milan), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese), Afriyie Acquah (Parma), Christian Atsu (Vitesse), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough), Andre Ayew (Marseille), Mubarak Wakaso (Rubin Kazan)
Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke 04), Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux)
Number of World Cup Finals: 2
Best Result: Quarter-Final (2010)
Route to the Finals: CAF Second Round Group D
Playoff: vs. Egypt
1st Leg (H): W 6-1
2nd Leg (A): L 2-1
Chance of Winning (Rank): 0.6% (23rd)
Key Player: Kevin-Prince Boateng
International Caps: 12
International Goals: 2
Returning to international football in time for the World Cup, Kevin-Prince Boateng will play a crucial role if the Ghana squad are to substantiate their self-assured prediction to become the first African team to make a World Cup semi-final.
It?s difficult to have such confidence considering they are grouped with the world?s second and fourth highest ranking teams (Germany & Portugal) ? and the USA game will be equally difficult.
The 27-year-old, German-born forward has had a turbulent career, known for his aggressive tackles and controversial brief retirement from international football between World Cups, which resulted in him missing the 2012 and 2013 African Nations Cups. In 2008/09, while on loan to Borussia Dortmund, Boateng received a 4 match suspension for a ?no-nonsense flying kick? to Makoto Hasebe?s head.
The following season, while with Portsmouth, he fouled Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, causing an ankle injury that ruled him out of the 2010 World Cup. Boateng defended himself by claiming Ballack had slapped the forward in the face prior to the incident, comparing it to the reported slap Ballack had given striker Lukas Podolski in a training match the previous year.
The 2012/13 season saw him with the second highest number of red cards received in the top-five European football leagues, with an average of a red card in every 6 matches.
His international career began in 2001 with Boateng appearing in Germany?s U15 to U21 teams. Disheartened with not being called to the senior German national team and after accusing Joachim L?w of favouritism towards Ballack, Boateng accepted an offer to join the Ghanaian national team in May 2010 and made 5 appearances and scoring 1 goal at the 2010 World Cup. After retiring from international football briefly due to fatigue, Boateng made his come-back in November 2013 on the 79thminute and scored in the 89th minute against Egypt to secure the Black Stars their place in the 2014 World Cup.
Despite Boateng?s volatile tackling he is a Ghanaian strength in attack. In 28 appearances for Schalke 04, he scored 6 goals (0.22 per 90 minutes) with 3.23 shots per 90 minutes, 36.4% of these on target, as well as averaging 2.17 one-on-one wins per 90 minutes, successfully beating his opponent with 77.6% of his dribble attempts. If there?s a concern it?s his creativity ? setting a five-year low with 1.10 shot assists per 90 minutes:
Alongside Al Ain centre-forward Asamoah Gyan (who scored 6 goals in his 6 appearances for Ghana during qualification), Boateng and his teammates will need to be strong in attack to counteract Ghana?s weak defence in order to progress from what has been labelled as the ?Group of Death?.