Ghana scrapped its way into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and will be competing in Group H. The team looked great in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, making it out of the group stage in 2006 and to the quarterfinals in 2010. However, 2014 saw Ghana not win a game in a tough group, and in 2018, they missed the World Cup entirely. Ghana struggled to get into the 2022 World Cup, barely making it. In Group H, they will face two top 15 teams according to FIFA’s rankings as of June 2022 in Portugal and Uruguay. They will also have South Korea in the group ranked at 28, while Ghana is at 60. Ghana clearly will have a challenge, but they do have some World Cup experience and new talent that gives them hope.
1. Scrappy Qualifications
The road for Ghana to qualify for the World cup soccer 2022 was filled with close calls. In the group stages of qualification, they finished with 4W-1D-1L, tied with South Africa. Ghana moved on to the playoff round because, even though both teams tied at 13 points and a goal difference of four, Ghana scored seven goals to South Africa’s six. That one extra goal advanced them. In the playoff round, they faced Nigeria, who at the time of their second leg playoff game in March was the third highest-ranked African team by FIFA, while Ghana was 11th. In the first leg of the playoff in Ghana, the game ended 0-0, and the second leg ended 1-1, sending Ghana to the World Cup off-away goals. Through Ghana’s chances of succeeding were slim, they found a way to get back to the World Cup.
2. Strong Midfield
A massive part of how Ghana was able to qualify for the World Cup was because of two players within its midfield. Thomas Party is 29 years old but will be participating in his first World Cup for Ghana. He gained notoriety as a great defensive midfielder and an anchor in a strong defense for Athletico Madrid. Arsenal bought him for upwards of $45 million, and he has been a crucial part of the team’s recent success in the Premier League, being the primary enforcer in the midfield. Party also scored the only goal in the games against Nigeria to move Ghana into the World Cup. Mohammed Kudus is more of the attacker and creative one in the midfield, but at 21 has shown promise. He does not play as much in a deep Ajax team but often excels when given opportunities. With Ajax’s second team playing in the second-tier league in the Netherlands, he scored five goals last season. While playing for Ghana, Kudus is given more opportunities to shine, and in the 2022 World Cup, he is a young player to look out for.
3. A Brotherly Bond in Leadership
With the former captain and Ghana’s all-time leading goal scorer and most-capped player, Asamoah Gyan retiring from international play in 2019, Ghana has found leadership in brothers. Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew are both in the top 10 in caps and goals for Ghana and have taken over the leadership roles in the team. Andre is the team’s official captain at 32, having the fifth-most caps in team history while also scoring the second-most goals. Jordan, 30, has had a more successful career outside of international soccer compared to his brother, having found success in the Premier League. Andre is the only remaining team member who made it to the 2010 quarterfinals but did not play much of a role on the team.
4. New Management
After not making it out of the group stage AFCON 2021 tournament, which was played in January 2022, manager Milovan Rajevac was fired. The team was already suffering in World Cup qualifications, and former player Otto Addo was appointed manager from an assistant role. Addo played 15 games for Ghana but was named interim manager before the playoffs with Nigeria. His success in the playoffs to get Ghana to the World Cup earned him the official manager job. The effects of Addo becoming manager was good enough to get Ghana to the World Cup, but it is still early in his tenure…
5. A Group Open to Possibilities
Though Portugal, Uruguay, and South Korea all rank within the top 30 in FIFA’s most recent ranking, and Ghana is 60, there is still a chance Ghana makes it out of the group stage. Ghana has already shown that they can succeed in close games and competitions despite being the lesser team. That belief and ability to succeed against the odds will come in handy. On top of that, even though the other three teams are better overall, they do have weaknesses that could give Ghana opportunities. Portugal has a top-heavy roster, Uruguay may have one of the oldest teams, and South Korea doesn’t have much recent success in the World Cup odds. This opens a crack that gives Ghana a chance to make it out of Group H.