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Sports Features of Monday, 2 December 2013

Source: Tetteh, Nii Ayitey

Wanted: A Kind World Cup Draw For Ghana

By Nii Ayitey Tetteh

Roman mythology has it that, in the days of the empire, a particular goddess was worshipped for fortune and luck. Fortuna, the goddess of luck, as she was called was badly sought, and though times have changed, she is still relevant. On December 6, 2013 at exactly 16:00 GMT, the world’s attention would be centered on a 90 minute event in Costa do Sauipe, a luxury holiday resort in Brazil. Indeed, while the whole event which is the final draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is expected to be a mixture of sports and culture, it’s the last 35 minutes, when teams are drawn from the various pots into 8 groups of 4 teams that will be most engaging. More than ever, at this event, the company of Fortuna, now referred to as Lady Luck, will be sought relentlessly.
Though you may verbalize your unbelief in her, I am sure, subconsciously, you do believe in her. If you will be honest, how many times haven’t you found yourself wishing she’s in your corner; at the toss of a coin, a dip, a pull of the slot machine lever or a roll of a dice? I bet you have and still do. So you see, no matter how you wish her away, Lady Luck is ever present; what matters however, is to have her in you corner. Ghana, like the other 31 teams that will go into the draw, will be silently courting her in order to have a kind draw, which will be a fairly easy group from which a team can easily qualify into the knockout rounds. Is that an unrealistic expectation? Will the final grouping be entirely Lady Luck’s call? Let’s travel in time and forecast what kind of draw awaits Ghana’s Black Stars.

The Draw will be conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke in front of 1,300 guests, broadcasted live in 193 countries and also streamed online. The 32 teams will be divided into four pots with each country’s name hidden within a ball. Balls will then be drawn from each of the 4 pots over 8 rounds, thus ensuring 8 groups of 4 teams. In order to ensure fairly balanced groups, 8 of the qualified teams will be seeded into pot 1. Brazil by virtue of being hosts will automatically be seeded with the other top ranked teams (Based on October 2013 FIFA rankings). Thus, the other seeded teams in pot 1 will be Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and guess who, guess who, Switzerland.
The other three pots will be split by region in order to avoid teams from the same continent meeting each other. The exception here will be Europe who by virtue of having the largest representation of 13 teams cannot escape the possibility of meeting fellow European teams. The other pots are thus grouped as follows; Pot 2 (Iran, Japan, Australia, Korea Republic, USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras). Pot 3 (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador, and France) Pot 4 (Netherlands, England, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina). Having gotten the mechanism of the Draw out the way, we can now look at what will constitute a mean draw (Group of Death) or a kind draw (Luck of the Draw) for Ghana.

Hello Lady Luck, this is where Ghana needs you. So, you may have heard a running argument that, to win the World Cup, you need to beat the best, so no need to seek a soft draw. Well, I’ve got news for you. The world cup is one month long and it is always best to warm up and peak at the latter stages. For that to happen, it is always advisable to meet weaker teams in matches where you can afford mistakes and smoothen rough edges to better prepare you to meet the top dogs in a better shape. So, I am all for a kind draw at the group stage and I have my own idea of what that should be.
When Jerome Valke assisted by former World Cup Winners Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zinnedine Zidane and Geoff Hurst begin drawing the balls from the pots, Ghanaians will hope for the luck of the draw rather than a group of death. A group of death for me will be when Ghana is drawn with Brazil, the strongest and of course the team with home advantage from pot 1; Japan clearly strongest from Pot 2 with technically gifted players like Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Makoto; and then the Netherlands, the strongest from pot 4 will be another team to avoid.
The draw to court, the luck of the draw for Ghana will be to be drawn alongside Switzerland, who despite their high FIFA ranking are surely the weakest from Pot 1; Honduras, who with English-based midfield duo Wilson Palacios and Roger Espinoza have some talents but are still awaiting a first world cup victory will surely be an easier pick from pot 2; and Bosnia Herzegovina, albeit with a compact and settled squad in the likes of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, strikers Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko, could have this being their debut appearance count against them, thus making them a favourite pick from pot 4.
Should Switzerland, Honduras and Bosnia Herzegovina be grouped alongside Ghana, it would be a dream draw indeed. So folks let’s look for Lady Luck, treat her to some Ghanaian hospitality; Some “Waakye” maybe, “Tuo Zaafi” or perhaps Fufu with “akrantie”, washed down with some “nmle daa” alongside some Borborbor music. Surely, that should win her over or? Any ideas where we can find Lady Luck? The search is on!
follow me on twitter @niithesoccerguy
(Culled from the 90 Minutes)

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