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Soccer News of Monday, 9 December 2013

Source: Graphic Online

Former England Coach tips Ghana

Former Barcelona and England manager, Terry Venables, insists the Black Stars are one of the favourites to qualify from their group to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup.

Following last Friday's 2014 World Cup finals draw which pitted Ghana in a group with Germany, Portugal and the United Stars in what some have seen as the toughest group, enables is confident the Black Stars, together with the Germans, will eventually go through.

Dismissing the strength of Portugal and the USA, the Englishman who managed England between 1994 and 1996 and guided them to the semi-finals of the Euro 96, tips Ghana and Germany to advance from the difficult group and make it to the second round ahead of the Portuguese and the Americans.

The 70-year-old former Tottenham manager, who sees Ghana only making it to the last 16 and Germany to the quarter-finals, said: "Ghana sealed a place in their third successive finals with an impressive play-off win over Egypt. Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Kelvin-Prince Boateng gave them plenty of experience in the middle and this will propel them to the last 16."

He argued: "Joachim Low's men breezed through qualification. But I fear conditions may hit their chances and they will finish as quarter-finalists."

He insists: “Portugal, the 1966 and 2006 World Cup semi-finalists, have not been too good in recent times, only struggling to qualify for the last two major tournaments (South Africa 2010 and Euro 2012) and this Brazil 2014 via a play-off.

And despite their pedigree as a big football nation, Paolo Bento's side have relied mostly on Cristiano Ronaldo, to get them to Brazil.

"Their hopes rest on one man - Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star is the best player on the planet right now. But I am not sure if even he will be able to lead his country to glory. Their prediction is the group stage," noted Venables.

Looking at Ghana’s game against the United States of America, Venables contends that their improvement under Jurgen Klinsmann won't be enough for them to go through the group.

"Klinsmann is winning over supporters in his adopted country with his free-flowing style. Frontmen Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey form a potent duo but they cannot go beyond the group stage,” Venables insists.

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