The greatest show on earth is looming ever closer on the horizon. The long awaited World Cup 2014 is due to begin 12 June when Brazil play Croatia. Football fans all over the world have a heightened sense of expectation given that this year’s finals are to be held in Brazil; progenitors of crowd-pleasing samba style football. Those fans lucky enough to have seen their national team progress through the qualifying stages have either been busy booking flights to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, or checking the TV schedules for the crucial matches.
Nowhere is the anticipation as great as in the West African country of Ghana where the Black Stars, the nickname for the national team, are celebrated as iconic figures. Ghana versus the USA kicks off in Natal 16 June at 6pm local time. This means that fans in Accra will be tuning in to watch their heroes at 9pm in the evening. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the ever increasing hordes of football fans in the United States will be tuning in to watch their idols at similar times to the fans lucky enough to be in the stadium in Brazil.
Ghana go in to Brazil 2014 hoping to ease the hurt of their quarter-final penalty shoot-out loss to Uruguay at South Africa 2010. As they showed in South Africa, the Black Stars are much more than an attractive side with flashy goal celebrations. Since he was appointed as head coach a couple of years ago, James Kwesi Appiah has got the them playing a thoughtful, controlled style of football, founded on a robust midfield, built around the energetic Michael Essien, a strong defence held together by former Spurs favourite Kevin-Prince Boateng, and a slick counterattacking approach that exploits the explosive pace of super striker Asamoah Gyan.
Football has long since transcended the American college campus. The fact that German legend Jürgen Klinsmann leads the USA shows how far the Stars and Stripers have come in terms of world football. Klinsmann has finely honed a talented and disciplined counter-attacking unit. With dependable goalkeepers like Tim Howard of Everton and Aston Villa’s Brad Guzman to rely on in defence, skilful flair players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley making forward runs from deep, and clinical finisher Landon Donovan spearheading the attack, the Stars and Stripes are more than capable of causing a few surprises in the group stages.
In summary, Ghana versus the USA is likely to be a fascinating but cagey affair. Both sides play a contained counterattacking game with a reliance on solid teamwork. The game may well be decided by an individual piece of brilliance by the likes of Donovan or Gyan. Then again, with such a tight and tactical game in the offing, an individual defensive error could make all the difference.
Catch the match highlights here: http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/events/world-cup-2014/Home.html.
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