Ghana

Population: 23.9 million (UN 2008)

Area: 238,533 sq km

Capital: Accra

Currency: Cedi

Federation: Ghana Football Association, affiliated to FIFA in 1958

Registered players: 27,500

Kit colours: White shirts, white shorts, white socks

Team nickname: The Black Stars

World Cup record: second round (2006), quarter-final (2010)

CAN appearances: 19 (1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013)

CAN honours: Winner (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982), finalist (1968, 1970, 1992, 2010), 3rd place (2008, 2012), 4th place (1994, 1996, 2013)

How they qualified for FIFA World Cup 2014: Finished top of CAF Zone second round Group 5 with 12 pts (4 wins, 0 draws, 2 defeats, 11 goals for, 5 against) ahead of Gabon (12pts), Libya (12), and Lesotho (0). Then finished top of third round Group D with 13 points (4 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat, 9 goals for, 3 against) ahead of Benin (10pts), Mali (9) and Sudan (1)

Top clubs: Asante Kotoko, Hearts of Oak

Key players:

FIFA Rank:

Coach:

Having made the last-16 in 2006 and going out controversially in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Uruguay in 2010, Ghana look potentially capable of going even further at Brazil 2014.

The Black Stars, as Ghana are known, have a batch of foreign based stars in Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan, AC Milan’s Sulley Muntari and the Ayew brothers Jordan and Andre.

The team slammed home 18 goals and conceded only three in the first round of World Cup qualification before hammering six goals past Egypt in the first leg of their qualifier in Kumasi.

This stunning win for Kwesi Appiah’s side, against one of Africa’s top football sides, sent a warning shot across the bows of all other pretenders to the World Cup trophy that Ghana are there to be reckoned with.

Their weakness might be that some of the top players have had stormy relations with the international set up, notably Jordan Ayew, Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng of Schalke 04.

Kwesi Appiah is himself a former international captain of Ghana who tasted the sweetness of success lifting the 1982 CAN trophy and is currently shaping the side in his own sturdy image.

At the 2013 CAN his side had looked capable of winning the tournament only to fall to Burkina Faso in the semis. Yet several youngsters came through at that tournament to suggest new hope.

Goalkeeper Fatau Dauda helped his club side Orlando Pirates of South Africa to the Champions League final in 2013 and is a reassuring safe pair of hands. Juventus utility midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was impressive while the Rubin Kazan forward Wakaso Mubarak was joint top scorer of the tournament with four goals.

Meanwhile, the players coming through made it of the semi-finals of the 2013 Under-20′s World Cup, a tournament they won in 2009.

The team will likely garner a great deal of foreign support in Brazil after the incident that stopped them making the semi-final in 2010. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez handled the ball to prevent a goal in the closing seconds of the quarter-final, with Ghana defeated on penalties after having missed the ensuing penalty. There has always been a great deal of popular sympathy for Ghana since then.

All these factors and the good organisation of the national football scene bode well for a side seen as one of the dark horses for this Brazilian extravaganza.

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