Sports Features of Saturday, 28 December 2013

Source: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Brazil 2014: Ghana is America's No. 1 Target

Group G is said to be the group of death. It is a group of death for all the teams except Germany as many reckon. While it has been difficult for pundits to predict, many have counted Ghana as one of the teams likely to move on from the group. If you are an American fan then, the most hopeful thing that can happen to your team is for America to beat Ghana.

Of course beating a team that you have lost to twice says a lot. Among others, it will confirm what many have said: that America has improved. It will give Americans hope that they have replaced Ghana as a team with a chance to move out of the group. If America beats Ghana and does not move on out of the group, it will at least be a sweet revenge for Americans. And for the game being their first, a win will be a great moral boost.

This should put Ghana on the alert. Ghana has been rated arguably the best team in Africa even though we have disappointed ourselves many times over; the latest being our second match against Egypt. There were times in that game that I wondered if Ghana would score any goal at all. America certainly will go to the game very hungry for a win whether we do or not, but we must.

Here is how I see it. Americans play to win of course, but their real aim is the riches that lie beyond the game. If America just makes it out of the group stage, there are possibilities that the heroes of their games will find endorsement contracts awaiting them beside spots on the celebrity list. Every American on the field will be on a mission to earn these benefits so a game against Ghana is not just a game.

If Ghana goes in not hungry enough to win a game, if Ghana goes in to play football rather than go in to win a game, we will walk away from the game with our tails between our legs. It will spell doom for us the rest of the games. We must at all cost go into the game bent on winning. Our chance to advance goes through the Americans and we must know this before we even board a plane to leave for Brazil.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: our way of going through the Americans is to make long passes and get the ball away from our half of the field and try to play the game on the Americans' half of the field. I believe we have the talent to do this without any question. We must take many shots at goal rather than spend time dribbling and passing around the ball looking for an opening before taking shots. (I continue to believe that if we play this way, we can beat even Germany: yes, I said Germany).

Anyone who thinks differently should watch how quickly the Americans try to get the ball to our side and should count how many shots the Americans take at our goal. If we have no plan to make them play on their half of the field, we stand a chance of having our tails between our legs: a prospect that will certainly wake me up in a panic if I dreamt of it. By the way, a draw is not acceptable because of the group that we are in. If we draw, we are likely to come back home.

Go Black Stars. Go get one for the lone black star on the yellow background sandwiched between red and green.

Tony Pobee-Mensah