Yes We Gyan


Dede Ayew's industry will be on the sidelines on Friday. Who will fill his shoes? Photo Credit: Senyuiedzorm Adadevoh


Today is a rest day at the world cup with no matches and with more time on my hands I decided to watch some of the games of the second round. Of particular interest were Ghana and Uruguay’s second round matches. Isn’t it always easier to analyze  a game dispassionately when you know the result and furthermore when the result is in your favor? Ghana’s win against the US was not its most complete match tactically or from a focus perspective. For that, you’d have to look to the losing effort against Germany. Ghana’s performance against Germany carried over into the US game. The team started off by being composed on the ball, worked quickly and aggressively to get the ball back when they lost it and were in command of what they were doing. They were confident. It was as though matching the Germans every step of the way had given them a swagger.

The grit, determination and will they showed in the match against the US when the Stars and Stripes had the momentum was most impressive. I thought in terms of showing the quality to will yourself to a win, it was probably the best I have seen from a Ghana team in a while. They played like they really, really wanted to win. Even when things were not going their way, you could see they were all trying hard. It is not a quality you often see with the Stars but on this day I thought their attitude was excellent. At this point in the cup, in some games it comes down to a combination of who wants it more and who is luckier.

In the first half, we were dominant. We had one glaring lapse where a missed clearance by Jonathan Mensah allowed the Americans to come up with a wonderful opportunity that Robbie Findley failed to utilize. Kevin Prince Boateng obviously took his goal well and after that we were clearly in control. The second half was markedly different. The Americans pressed higher up, forced a quicker tempo, passed the ball more crisply and in more attacking positions and they created a few opportunities that left the Ghanaians scrambling. Watching the match live I thought the Americans had us pinned and were the more likely to win. Watching it again, I think it was a more nuanced game than I was seeing live. I think it was certainly a more open game in the second half and both teams had some good possession and chances. The Americans definitely had the advantage in the chances department but all in all, I thought we gave as good as we got. If the American strikers were more deadly in front of goal it could have been a different story. But then again, if the Ghanaians were more attack-minded we could also have created more chances.

For the first time in the tournament, I thought fatigue became a factor for the Ghanaians as the game wore on. Some of the players seemed heavy legged and the US exploited that and got behind the defense a few times especially on the flanks. The Stars huffed and puffed their way to the end though. And they needed to.

Let’s face it, while our first half was dominant and I believe took the confident Americans off guard, in the second, we were in danger of cracking. That sense was present throughout the second half and at the beginning of extra time. That was of course until Mr. Asamoah Yes We Gyan came through in a big way and scored a very good goal.

Looking ahead, Dede Ayew’s suspension will be a big blow. He does so much for the team defensively and offensively that there is bound to be a drop off. While I think we have a couple of players that can replace what he does going forward, I don’t know that any of the players on the bench can give that defensive cover. Opoku Agyemang, where art thou?!!! 

If he is joined on the sidelines by Kevin Prince Boateng due to injury, send a paramedic to my room because I would be even more worried.

Ghana-US Post Match Interviews


Abedi Pele says the focus should be on the whole team and not only his son


I was fortunate enough to run into Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and the maestro, Abedi Pele after the match against the US. The encounter with Bryant lasted about 30 seconds as he was more preoccupied with finding his vehicle. He also had a minder who cut me off shortly after. Still, he spoke glowingly of the “young kid, number 13,’ Dede Ayew. 

The maestro was more giving of his time and even though the focus of a few of the questions was on his son, he stressed that while he was proud of his son, it was an entire team effort.

He was also still hopeful that Dede would not be suspended for the game against Uruguay but it has since been confirmed that Dede Ayew will miss that match. There were also a couple of Brazilian journalists trying to get him to talk about the Brazilian team.

Ghana vs USA: A View From Accra


The ubiquitous vuvuzela was all up in fans' faces and ears after Ghana's win Photo Credit: Matt Muspratt



Matt Muspratt watched the Black Stars go through to the quarter-finals at Honeysuckle in Osu. Matt is an American who has lived in West Africa for the past two years – the last five months in Ghana. He drove by the French Embassy in Washington DC minutes after the 1998 World Cup final; watched Ronaldo’s 2002 final goals on a car-battery-powered TV in a northern Cote d’Ivoire village; and listened to Zidane’s 2006 headbutt on a radio in rural Sierra Leone. He wants to see Gyan score in the 2010 final . . . on a flatscreen in Accra.


It had to be one fan or the other.

One was going to deflate at the sudden end to an inspiring World Cup run, and rue how far away Brazil 2014 seems. The other was going to keep riding, giddy at a weak quarter-bracket that makes a semi-final run very possible. Let’s call the first Fan A, for American, and the second Fan B, for Blacks Stars.

As a resident of Accra, I am confident my inner Fan B will surface by Friday — and anyway, I hate the Uruguay team — but Fan A is bumming the day after Ghana’s 2-1 victory over the States. If the result had been reversed, I bet inner Fan B would feel the same. And it’s not just because I’ve got both Fans in me, it’s because the Ghana and US teams represent similar, important dreams. It’s a shame one will have to wait four years.

There’s no need to re-hash the joy and pride Ghana generated by qualifying for the knock-out stage and then consolidated by becoming only the third African nation ever to reach a World Cup quarterfinals. Gyan and Ayew are dedicating their Ghanaian wins to Africa, talking of the entire continent’s support for the Black Starts — the last African team standing in the first World Cup on African soil.

Myself, though American, I have lived and worked long enough in West Africa to want to see an African success taken straight to a world audience and straight in the face of Western competition. Perhaps that’s a vague and unwieldy statement, but suffice it to say that I’ve kicked the ball around with my subsistence farmer friends in northern Cote d’Ivoire and seen the Kanda neighborhood guys playing every morning at 6:30am on the dirt pitch across from my Accra home. For me, a big part of sports is representing community — I want to see the farmers and Kanda win; I want them to win on the world’s stage.

But Fan A emerges when it’s crunch time. I am still an American — one that follows soccer — and this time Team USA was representing the very best of America. Cliches: The can-do spirit of come-from-behind victories; the blend of racial diversity; heck, even a star who is the coach’s son (just like my youth soccer teams!). I wanted to see American success taken straight to a world audience and straight in the face of world competition that doesn’t think the US cares about the planet’s sport. In two weeks the team had captured the attention of Americans and here was Donovan and Dempsey’s chance to fully bring the world’s sport to America and bring America to the world fully in a favorable light. I wanted to see that US win on the world’s stage.

For the game of soccer and for Ghanaians and Americans, it was important that their team win.

In any case, Fans A and B were bar-side at The Honeysuckle, an Irish-pub-style venue off Ring Road chosen as much for its eight flatscreens as the prospect of encountering both American and Ghanaian fans. My scouting missions had revealed that though the bar’s menu and prices lean ex-pat, Ghanaians always outnumber foreigners. Early arrivals included US embassy staff, but the tables soon turned and this was a Black Star crowd.

I may have been the worst sport there (or maybe it was the guy shouting “We will score you! We will put papayas in your eyes!” when Ghana went up 1-0), for when the final whistle blew there was dancing all around, and I just leaned over my Star and watched. The shaking bartenders, the ladies jigging atop the bar, the congo line circling around. Even the embassy folks were grooving — that didn’t seem right.

But that’s what the celebration was. Dancing in the bar. Dancing in the streets of Osu. I shot some video.


I don’t think dancing features as prominently in American celebrations. In fact, after the US beat Algeria on a last-minute goal, a US student gathered a bunch of YouTube celebration clips into an homage to American support for the team []. No dancing, but I don’t think the videos are that different.



Asamoah "Baby Jet" Gyan propels Black Stars into the Quarter-Finals Photo Credit: Senyuiedzorm Adadevoh


There is too much to say and feel about Ghana’s victory against the USA. Ghanaians must have gone to bed elated and that ecstasy will likely last at least until the quarter-final match against Uruguay. I went to bed with Asamoah Gyan’s left foot strike firmly planted in my mind and woke up with it even more cemented. What a moment?! The post-game “Waka Waka,” Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” and “Waving Flag” never sounded so sweet, the three-hour long journey back from Rustenberg could not have been more bearable, and Ghanaian fans or anyone draped in the red, gold, green flag were treated like a Black Star in Rustenberg and in Johannesburg. Beautiful. But the effort that was expended by the players was exemplary. This was a game with so much suspense and tension, the win or go home stage of the competition adding more to the stakes. 

Ghana’s dream start courtesy of Kevin Prince Boateng’s superb strike was cancelled in the second half by a Landon Donovan penalty. And just when you got the sense that the US had the momentum, BAM, in steps Asamoah Gyan with the winner early into the extra time!!! The goal took a lot out of the Americans’ sails and but for the tiny issue of time remaining on the clock in extra time, Ghana was through. 

Sports often have these moments where no matter how hard you try you just cannot wrap your mind around it. Those ‘what just happened’ moments. 

Let’s start with Asamoah Gyan’s rocket of a left foot shot. He could easily have gone down for a free kick, he could have scuffed the shot, but instead he stumbled, determinedly regained his balance, took two baby steps and WHAM!!! I screamed GOOOOAALLLLLLLLLLL!!! And then I thought, what just happened? Are we really on our way? Two goals from open play? It must be a sign because we have been unable to find the back of the net that way previously.

Which leads me to another moment. First half, five minutes in, Kevin Prince Boateng was streaking down the middle with ball at his feet, a little body swerve freezes the defender for a moment, Boateng accelerates into another gear and placed his shot low on the ground beyond the reach of Tim Howard. Did that really happen? As I was watching it unfold, it was as though I was watching in slow motion with no expectations for him to score. And then out of nowhere, it was in.

I pumped my fists, I got up from my seat, I tried quieting my heart realizing there was still lots of time left but heart was enjoying too. 

The Americans piled on the pressure in the second half and had a what just happened moment as well. Jonathan Mensah committed to the challenge early and fouled Clint Dempsey in the box. Penalty. Landon Donovan takes a splendid penalty and game is tied. US fans are the only ones enjoying at this point. What in the world? We’ve come this far only for it to be taken away? But ultimately it was meant to be and Ghana was not to be denied.

Will the Stars Align again for Ghana?


Will scenes like this be repeated to ensure a Black Stars win?


The constellations are going to have to pick sides today as the Stars and Stripes battle the Black Stars to see who progresses to the next round. You would think stars  that are black will be dulled by color but when the hopes of an entire continent rest with you, the light does have a way of piercing through and shine the Black Stars do.

The Stars take to the field today wearing their red with yellow striped jerseys. Four years and four days ago, it was much the same. If you believe in superstition, good omens or “sangomas”, or just plain repetition, the good omens must have started already. When we played the good old US of A in Germany we wore the same jerseys for the first time in that tournament and beat them. Today, for the first time in this year’s competition, we will wear red and yellow. Then, we were an unknown quantity that shocked the world by getting into the second round. Now, we are an overachieving squad without our best player Michael Essien that has the chance of getting into the quarter-finals, a story line many an African would be relieved by.  

Of course some in the US media have taken it to the next level by situating Ghana as the underdog that stands no chance. Others are already looking ahead for a ‘likely’ US run to the semi-finals. The opinion of two men. But don’t you get the sense since the pairings were finalized that the Black Stars should not bother to show up? Then again, that is what being stats and rankings-crazed will do to you. A friendly reminder that this is not fussball or paper football. It is why we play the games. If we have learned anything from this competition, it is that underdogs stand as good a chance as any to make history. After all, it takes a 2-1 scoreline to go from riding under greyhounds to being a tournament’s darlings and getting VIP treatment.

For as much as this match has a familiar feel, both teams’ personnel have changed. A glance at the team sheets four years ago shows that some players who were key then are not present or are not as prominent. On that fateful day in Germany we lined up for our group E match with a weaker squad than played against Italy or the Czech Republic. Starters Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari did not play due to suspension. All the 23 players in camp are available for this match with Isaac Vorsah being the main injury doubt.   

So, bring out the vuvus, expect a cagey well-played game and pray for a Ghana result. 

Go Black Stars.

Correction: The Black Stars wore red jerseys with very little yellow on them in 2006. The new design makes yellow more prominent and is not the same as that four years ago.


Michael Essien took down US captain Claudio Reyna four years ago. Will Ghana repeat dose on Saturday?

Four years ago, Ghana and the USA met in the last match in group E. It was a tight encounter with Ghana winning 2-1. I remember that game mainly because it got us through to the next round. At the time, it was a big achievement as it was our maiden world cup. That game sticks with me also because of a questionable yellow card that ruled Michael Essien out of the second round match against Brazil where his absence was too big to overcome. Essien is not a member of the team and he won’t be able to influence proceedings. Thus far, his shoes have been ably filled.

Re-reading the match reports on that match in 2006, it was a closer game than I remember. At the time I did not think there was any way the US would win so I remember it as a mere formality. Things have changed. Both sides are more evenly matched. The key to a Ghana victory is the action in the middle of the park. I don’t see how the US should be able to match our midfield. The US will likely try to take advantage of the size of Jozy Altidore but a fit John Mensah should be able to keep him quiet. Landon Donovan is one of the keys to a US victory and I believe we have the personnel to limit him. If he starts out on the right, Dede Ayew and Hans Sarpei together should be able to keep him in check and prevent him from getting the clearcut chances he got against Algeria and Slovenia. If he operates down the middle, our main defensive stopper Anthony Annan has the ability to make Donovan ineffective. Another player to watch is the US coach’s son, Michael Bradley. Like Anthony Annan he just gets it done without fuss. He scored the all-important second goal for the US against Slovenia. Clint Dempsey has become an important player for the US. But he has often been criticized for not showing up in important games for the US. He is an enigmatic player and on his day can be a handful. 

The game will hinge on which group of midfielders take their chances. If the Ghana midfield in Kwadwo Asamoah, Dede Ayew and Kevin Prince Boateng find their scoring boots, we could be in for a special night. If the US midfielders continue their scoring form, they will go on to the next round. 

But sometimes tactics and personnel have nothing on desire and willpower. The one quality the US team has shown is they just don’t know when to quit. They keep fighting until the very end and they make you earn everything you get. In short, sometimes, their heart takes over. If the Black Stars take the last African standing storyline to heart there should be no deficiency in the heart quotient. And if they approach the US team with the focus they did Germany, I predict we win 2-0 or 2-1. If we treat the US as though they are Australia or some minnows, we will be punished. 

We have a unique opportunity to equal and possibly even surpass what other African teams have done and it would be a shame to squander that opportunity.

On to the Next One


Mesut Ozil's goal silenced Ghana's fans momentarily


What is there to say after the match we just had against Germany. If I were a neutral I would have enjoyed the commitment of the two teams, the tactical discipline, the wonderful goal, the drama of following another match simultaneously and finding out who was going out of the competition and lots more. I wasn’t a neutral. So a few words come to mind. Difficult, suspense-filled and in the end triumph even in defeat.

As for suspense, there was plenty. I have never counted down the clock of another match that did not involve Ghana so earnestly. For as little as I know about the country, I have never loved Australia as much as now. I have heard it is a beautiful country with wonderful people. And none more so than the group that pulled a quick one on Serbia yesterday. 

The match began with Germany showing their attacking intent. It was about half way into the first period that Ghana started making its presence felt but not before eventual goal scorer Mesut Ozil missed a seemingly easier chance than he put away after being left all alone with Richard Kingson. At half time, the job was half done. If the score stayed at 0-0 Ghana would be through but you could never rest easy.

Fifteen minutes in, unease. Ozil on the edge of the box, shot, GOAL. Silence. At least at my section of the stadium. German fans went wild and were expecting more. For the next 30 minutes attention was divided between the action at soccer city and that in Nelspruit. Cheers for Australia goals and sweat anytime Serbia attacked and came close to scoring. Add confusion because few were sure as to what would happen if there was a high score draw and it was more tense than transmission cables. Would Serbia go through or Ghana would? No matter. Ghana lost. Australia won. Ghana through. Cue jubilation in stadium and relief for the continent. Whew.  One out of six. Not great but why be fussy at this point?

I cannot even imagine how much effort the players expended. For 90 minutes, you could see them giving their all. They were fighting for every ball and were playing as a unit. Defensively, it was a thing of beauty. Their play was like a symphony of which a conductor named Mourinho would be proud. They were rarely caught out of defensive position. Offensively, they were efficient, but for their finishing. Kwadwo Asamoah with a clear sight of goal, only keeper to beat. Blocked. Same for Dede Ayew who also had another chance early in the match but did not trust his right foot. But kudos to the no slouch Germans who made it extremely difficult. There is a reason the Germans have never been knocked out of the first round of the World Cup. 

We meet the United States next in what should be the easier half of the bracket. This made for a fascinating exchange after the match with Coach Milovan Rajevac remarking, “it was better to lose today than to play draw. If you look at the next matches, we’re more than happy.” Smart aleck journalist asks, “was your tactic to lose today?” Laughter, smiles, jokes all around and a knowing “sure” from the coach.  Ahhh, has a loss ever felt better?

Leaving me with one final question for Milo. Whatever you are cooking, does it have to have palpitations as an ingredient?

Go on and carry the torch, Black Stars.

Ghana is Through: A View From Accra


A loss never felt sweeter at Semi's Place.



Matt Muspratt watched the Black Stars go through to the second round at Semi’s Place in Asylum Down. Matt is an American who has lived in West Africa for the past two years – the last five months in Ghana. He drove by the French Embassy in Washington DC minutes after the 1998 World Cup final; watched Ronaldo’s 2002 final goals on a car-battery-powered TV in a northern Cote d’Ivoire village; and listened to Zidane’s 2006 headbutt on a radio in rural Sierra Leone. He wants to see Rooney, Dempsey, Drogba, or Gyan score in the 2010 final . . . on a flatscreen in Accra.


It’s a good day when one of your teams qualifies for the last eight of the World Cup.

That’s right. Knock-out stage brackets haven’t even been fully determined yet, but thanks to a last-minute Landon Donovan goal and sturdy play from Australia, both the USA and Ghana advanced today to the round-of-16 — where they will play each other Saturday for the right to a quarterfinal spot.

Winner gets my support. Until then . . . .

It almost didn’t happen for either team. I shivered out the heart-thumping US win in an A/C ex-pat sports bar straight out of Ann Arbor, MI — I knew I could count on them to simultaneously show the USA game and England’s must-win-and-they-did contest against Slovenia. (I hit the trifecta today — I’m an England supporter too.)

With my Anglo-Saxon victories in the bag, it was on to Semi’s Place in Asylum Down for Ghana versus Germany. I misjudged the potential for Accra’s denizens to actually show up early for a scheduled event and found myself seated at the far back, vuvuzelas in the ear and the projection screen a hundred hollering heads in front.

All was good though, even the couple of “Are you German?” questions.

“No. American!” (And can’t you see the yellow Ghana jersey I’m wearing?)

We’ll see how that answer flies in a couple of days.

The Semi’s crowd was active. Singing, cheering, standing for every Ghana rush. Halftime was particularly raucous, with Ghana still holding on to a tie and K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag World Cup anthem throwing banners and arms and vuvuzelas to and fro. “Driving the passion” read the swirling flags.

In the end, the final celebration was a bit subdued. Ghana had lost to Germany, but news of Australia’s victory over Serbia was at hand, and that was cause for shouts and horn bellows — Ghana was through to the knock-out stage.

“Are you Australian?” shouted one man.

“No. American!”


“Yeah. Saturday!”

This will be tough, but I do know whom I will support. I — along with everyone else — truly wanted an African team to advance out of the group stage. To have it happen to my country of residence is even sweeter. I’ll be happy with them, and my Ghana shirt may even get another wear.

But tomorrow will tell what it’s like to be an American in Accra. My taxi driver home tonight lamented how strong Germany was and how lucky Ghana had been to advance.

“The US will score Ghana,” he said.

“But remember four years ago. You guys won, and eliminated the US.”

“We did. But the teams, they are different.”

“Yeah. The US is strong.” •


Photo Credit: Matt Muspratt

Group D-Day


Black Stars train on eve of match against Germany


War analogies are often misused when it comes to sports but today’s Ghana vs Germany match will be as close to a battle as one is going to see on a football pitch.

Tonight at soccer city, all the expectations and predictions for Group D are going to be reduced to one 90 minute football match. Ghana has a chance to inflict the soccer equivalent of D Day on ze Germans and plant its red, gold, green on the turf at soccer city while proclaiming, “This is our house. This is our territory.” It is arguably the biggest game in Ghana’s history. After the exit of three African teams and the almost certain exit of a fourth in Cote d’ Ivoire, we have the opportunity to put the continent on cloud billion. I can just see it in my mind’s eye, the kind of joyous scenes that will play out if we manage to join our Senegalese and Camerounian brothers in making history. It would be the biggest upset in this year’s World Cup if we beat the Germans and knocked them out of the competition. So yes, I can imagine it. In those rare moments where I let myself be wildly optimistic, I can even feel it.

But it is Germany and they rarely lose. Make no mistake about it, it will be one of the hardest matches Team Ghana will endure. We go against a formidable foe with an incredible history of success at this competition. We go mano e mano against a team that when it gets going scores goals for fun. We will face a tough opponent that lost a painful one against the Serbs and is eager to redeem themselves. As Coach Milovan Rajevac pointed out in his final press conference before the game yesterday, “Germany is ranked better than us on the paper” but paper never played football for which we thank God.  

Add our own limitations to the equation, foremost among them our inability to put away our chances and the prospect of facing Germany is at times frightening. Our goal scoring situation has even been comically reduced to a tag line, “One Goal Project.” But one goal or not, I share Milo’s philosophy that all we want is the result. For him, if we do not concede a goal, we are through. To that end, the injuries we had before the match against Australia in John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah must not be present for this match. Certainly, both missing this match would create some problems. Fortunately or unfortunately, Milo did not touch on injuries or on who he would play, simply saying he had 23 players to choose from. 

As for us fans, it is likely to be a game where the heart beats to levels it has rarely known and the nerves do not react normally. Knees will feel like jelly when the storm clouds gather (Germans on attack). If you are going to soccer city bring all the warm clothing you can because whatever the thermometer says, when the nerves set in it will feel like you are in a freezer!!! 

Hopefully, we will not be left out in the cold. Go Black Stars.

Other nuggets from Milo’s press conference yesterday


“This ejection of Klose will have an impact on the tactics of the German team. We know the German team relatively well. It’s an excellent team. It’s a strong football power and we’re sure they will have an excellent pace until the last minute of the game. We don’t think they have weaknesses. The only thing that I might mention is that they might have psychological problems because it is a decisive game for the Germans. It’s so to speak a final game for Germany and I will have to see how these weaknesses will be reflected on the pitch but it is one of the best teams worldwide.”


“We  are no longer focused on this.”


“The media created this problem and even if it was a problem it is behind us… I think he will play without any pressure.” 


“We pray to the almighty God.” “We have some kind of unity in the team and that is what is keeping us going.”

Opponents Watch: Ze Germans


Klose's aerial ability will be missed but replaced by Cacau's speed


Ich bin very gut must be German for our national team is very good and our opponents know it. Watching the Germans methodically dismiss Bosnia in their final friendly before embarking for South Africa was discomfiting. Down 1-0 at the half to an Edin Dzeko strike, the Germans went into all out attack mode in the second half and scored three unanswered goals. They play a style reminiscent of the 2006  world cup team that placed third on their home soil. Their style is characterized by energy and pace. They have many attacking options and seek to overwhelm the opposition with their outstanding fitness levels. They are not the Germans of old but they are still plenty effective. It’s like comparing the old VW Beetle cars to the new sexier and colorful ones. At the end of the day, regardless of the redesign, they both work well and take you from point A to B. They are Autos!!!

That form in the friendlies was evident in their first game against Australia. The attack was devastating against the  Socceroos where they bagged four goals. It seemed like everything went their way that night from the dismissal of Tim Cahill to the ease of their goals. A more disciplined and cautious Serbia side frustrated the Germans and were rewarded with a 1-0 victory. Of course, the Germans will argue that the loss of Miroslav Klose meant they played a large part of the match with 10 men. Nevertheless, the Serbs showed how to keep the Germans flustered and quiet and reduced their goal scoring chances.


The following should be closely watched as they are likely to influence the outcome of the match against Ghana. 

Bastian Schweinsteiger has a deadly shot. He has a controlled game and fills Ballack’s role in driving the team forward down the middle. 

Lukas Podolski An enigmatic player who has spent much of the past season rooted to Luis Van Gaal’s bench. He was one of the better players on the last German world cup team. Against Australia, he scored a good goal. He quickly joined the club of the few Germans who have ever missed a penalty by missing one against Serbia. Still, he will be keen to make amends and his speed and running off the ball should be of concern.

Mesut Ozil. The first time I saw him play was in the friendly against Bosnia and he was quite impressive. He has a small frame which doesn’t stop him from running rings around defenders and shooting on sight. 

Cacau is a German with Brazilian roots who plays for Stuttgart and he looks as impressive in his German jersey as for his club. He is due to fill Klose’s starting role against Ghana as he serves his one-match suspension. His incredible speed and quickness will be a challenge to the Ghanaian defenders.  

Michael Ballack’s shoes were thought too big to be filled by one man. Sami Khedira’s performances for Germany have garnered a lot of ink and have made Ballack’s absence inconsequential. Some tipped Khedira to have a strong showing at this world cup. The 23-year old plays with power and disrupts the opponent’s attacks. Watch out for a battle between Khedira and the Ghanaian midfield. 

To keep the Germans in check, Ghana will have to take a page out of Serbia’s discipline and show extra caution when in possession so they do not lose the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch. Given the Germans’ potent offence I would be very surprised if this game ends as a scoreless draw. Nevertheless, with the right combination of commitment, discipline and luck, we should qualify for the second round.