Ghana face their toughest World Cup challenge against Portugal

National team boss Otto Addo will take part in his second World Cup with Ghana. First as a player in 2006 and now as a head coach. And he will lead the youngest team of the 2022 Qatar tournament through the toughest group.

cultural reset

After Ghana failed to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in Africa Cup of Nations history, Addo became interim head coach. The aim is to qualify for the World Cup in the Jollof Derby against rivals Nigeria. The Black Stars win 1-1 on away goals and as a result Ghana’s FA remove the provisional tag from Addo’s title. The 47-year-old has already announced that he will resign after the competition. The stakes are high for the former Ghana international and he wants to make Black Stars fans proud for many reasons.

Addo told German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten:

“…for the Ghanaians, this World Cup is also an additional bonus, because the country is not a big player internationally, politically or economically. Africa is generally underrepresented as a continent, so the World Cup is more than just a sporting event. With all the problems that exist in the country, every victory brings more peace and stability.”

Tactical changes

Addo is a native German, born in Hamburg as the son of Ghanaian immigrants. In his 16-year career he played as a winger for six teams, most notably Borussia Dortmund. As someone who switched nationality himself, he was able to convince Inaki Williams and Tariq Lamptey to join the Black Stars. They have the potential to become key players in the squad, joining Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey.

Over the year, Addo has used multiple lineups to figure out the best formation and tactical positioning for his roster. It seems like the 4-2-3-1 is his preference, while the 4-3-3 is second. In both setups, kudus is the X factor. He either plays higher up the field as number 10 or bridges the game between midfield and attack.

Partey goes into the World Cup in top form. He is arguably the Premier League’s best defensive midfielder of the young 2022/23 season. After midfielder Baba Iddrisu missed a call-up through injury, more is being asked of Partey to lead the midfield.

The biggest burden is on Williams as he has to fill the void left by Asamoah Gyan. The new UEFA-licensed coach is Africa’s all-time top scorer at the World Cup with six goals and Ghana’s top scorer. Williams is best known for his stamina, as he is La Liga’s record-holder for most consecutive games. For the Black Stars to get out of Group H, Williams needs to be clinical as a finisher.

group of death

Unfortunately, Ghana are without first-choice goalkeeper Joe Wollacott after a finger operation. The Charlton Athletic number one still traveled with the team for morale support. Lawrence Ati-Zigi will take his place between the posts. He will have a strong defence, led by Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu to lean on.

Two of their three group stage games feature a repeat of previous encounters on the world’s biggest stage. In their first game they meet Portugal, whom they defeated 2-1 at the 2014 World Cup. Their final game will be against Uruguay, who controversially defeated Ghana in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup. South Korea will also be a tricky test. Their star striker Son Heung-min has already scored five goals for his country in 2022.

Ghana are unlikely to progress beyond the group stage. However, they have the talent and leadership under Addo to potentially pull off an upset or two.

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