17 June 2014

Ghana: Second World Cup Round Looks Long Way Off for Ghana

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Asamoah Gyan celebrates his and Ghana's only goal in the match with Brazil.

As defender John Brooks rose unmarked to head home a dramatic winner for the United States over Ghana in Natal on Monday night, so too the sparkle in the Black Stars' World Cup campaign dimmed more than a little.

It was a killer blow, not just in terms of the point lost, but what it will do mentally to a Ghanaian side that had worked so hard to get themselves back into the game, only to throw it away again four minutes later.

The USA's 2-1 win is precious for them in a pool that also includes Germany and Portugal, though both the Americans and Ghana will be eyeing up a Portuguese side in some disarray following their calamitous 4-0 loss earlier in the day.

But if the Black Stars are to qualify for the second round, they will have to beat the Iberian side and take one point at least from the flying Germans, plus hope that other results go their way.

It looks a long shot and in truth their encounter with the USA was their game in which to shine and put down a marker for the second round.

But they could not have made a worse start, falling behind after just 29 seconds to a Clint Dempsey goal. It took them the rest of the first half to recover from the shock, before dominating the second period as they created chance after chance.

When Andre Ayew equalised with eight minutes remaining, Ghana seemed much the more likely to go on and win it, but they switched off at a corner and allowed German-born Brooks a free header from which he made no mistake.

"All I can say is that it was a very tough game and when you play at this high level any little mistake can cost you dearly," a visibly shaken Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah said, under no illusions as to the magnitude of the defeat.

"We had a lot of the ball and created a lot of chances, but we didn't make the most of our chances, but USA took theirs.

"It's not going to be easy to qualify for the group, but we'll give everything to do just that. We're going to have to play well against Germany and I know we'll give them a good game."

The USA's German coach Jurgen Klinsmann praised the Black Stars for their efforts, but in the end it was his more clinical side that won the day, making the most of their opportunities.

"Well first of all, I have to offer my congratulations to the team.

We've gone through a very difficult game, which we always expected," Klinsmann said. "We knew it would be a grind and go down to the wire against a very strong Ghana side.

"But I was still convinced that we would win this game even after Ghana's equaliser. I had the feeling that another two or three opportunities would come and we just needed to take one, which we did.

"This was exactly the start we wanted, we had to work hard for it and it's a great feeling to get the first three points."

Ghana must now get something from their next fixture against the mighty Germans in Fortaleza on Saturday.

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