UNITED STATES v GHANA
The Americans are one of the eight remaining unbeaten teams in the competition. They have performed creditably so far, without really being at their very best. After two draws against England and Slovenia they beat Algeria 1-0 and finished top of their group. Both the draws were achieved after the Americans went behind, 0-1 to England and 0-2 to Slovenia. This, along with their last-minute winning goal against Algeria only goes to confirm one thing – this American team will fight right up to the final whistle.
In Tim Howard (1) of Everton, the USA have a very experienced and skilled keeper. In front of him captain Carlos Bocanegra (3) of Rennes, Jay Demerit (15) of Watford, Steve Cherundolo (6) of Hannover and Oguchi Onyewu (5) of Milan are four experienced defenders. Of these Onyewu was rested against Algeria, but he was undoubtedly the most effective defender in the first two matches, and is likely to play against Ghana, if fit.
In midfield the Americans rely heavily on Landon Donovan (10) of LA Galaxy. He is their principal playmaker and also capable of scoring vital goals, as he did in injury time against Algeria. He also scored a stunning goal against Slovenia. Alongside him Clint Dempsey (8) of Fulham is another dynamic midfielder who can score goals with ease and regularity for club and country. He got the equaliser against England. But the American midfielder who is emerging as their man of the tournament is young Michael Bradley (4) of Moenchengladbach. The son of the coach Bob Bradley. He seems to improve in each game, and could be a key factor henceforth. He scored the equaliser against Slovenia.
In attack young Jozy Altidore (17) of Hull City is a real handful for opposition defenders. He is yet to find the net in this competition, but perhaps the Ghana game will end that goal drought. Robbie Findley (20) of Salt Lake was suspended for the Algeria game, but could come back for this match.
Ghana are also a side consisting of some supremely talented players. Under Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac they are developing into a very efficient unit. They started with a clinical 1-0 win over fancied Serbia. However, they were then held to a 1-1 draw by Australia, who played with 10 men for most of the game. They then opened up the much heralded German defence but somehow failed to score and finally lost the match 0-1.
In Richard Kingson (22) of Wigan Ghana have a skilful if temperamental keeper, equally capable of pulling off stunning saves and then committing awful mistakes! The defence looks solid, led by the strong and talented John Mensah (5) of Sunderland and John Paintsil (4) of Fulham. Isaac Vorsah (15) of German club Hoffenheim is another splendid defender, if fit. Side back Hans Sarpei (2) of Leverkusen loves to overlap.
In midfield, Ghana have one of Africa’s most talented youngsters in Andrew Ayew (13) of Arles of France. He is the son of the legendary Abedi Pele. Anthony Annan (6) of Rosenborg of Norway is a defensive midfielder, along with German born Kevin-Prince Boateng (23) of Portsmouth, while Udinese’s talented Kwadwo Asamoah (21) is an attacking midfielder. Veteran Stephen Appiah (10) of Bologna and Sulley Muntari (11) of Inter Milan may also play, if only as substitutes.
In attack Ghana’s principal striker is Asamoah Gyan (3) of Rennes, who has scored both Ghana’s goals in the finals. He should be assisted by Prince Tagoe (12) of Hoffenheim.
Thus the USA v Ghana match seems to be evenly poised. The Ghanaians will probably get most of the home support, but the Americans will fight right up to the death. For the neutral observer, this match promises to be full of exciting possibilities.