World Cup Dossier - Ghana

A look at Ghana, who will play Australia in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup. It is somewhat remarkable that Ghana, which is a four-time African Nations Cup champion, has only ever qualified for one World Cup, that being in 2006.

Previous clashes with Australia 2008: Sydney: Australia 1, Ghana 0 2006: London: Australia 1, Ghana 1 1996: Durban: Australia 2, Ghana 1 1995: Perth: Australia 0, Ghana 1 1995: Adelaide: Australia 1, Ghana 0 1995: Sydney: Australia 2, Ghana 1

World Cup History Best Result: 2006, Second Round

It is somewhat remarkable that Ghana, which is a four-time African Nations Cup champions and has continually been a force in world youth championships, has only ever qualified for one World Cup, that being in 2006.

The current crop of Black Stars players are considered the most talented generation to emerge from the football-mad nation, with the likes of Michael Essien, Sully Muntari and Stephen Appiah the nucleus of a talented team which emerged from a tough group in Germany 2006.

After losing 2-0 in its opening game against eventual champion Italy, Ghana rebounded with a 2-0 victory against Czech Republic with Asamoah Gyan the first Ghanaian to score a goal in the World Cup and Muntari joining in late on to confirm the win. A 2-1 success over the USA secured Ghana's passage to the second round, with Haminu Dramani and Appiah scoring the goals.

As fate would have it, Ghana then faced one of the toughest tasks in football, when it drew Brazil in the final 16. Brazil won the match 3-0, but Ghana put up more than a brave fight, and has plenty to build on in 2010.

Road to the World Cup Qualified as top in CAF - Group D Ghana's greatest concern in making the 2010 World Cup came in the initial group stage, where it only emerged thanks to a better goal difference from a group containing Gabon, Libya and Lesotho. The top three were all level on 12 points, but Ghana and Gabon progressed over the unlucky Libya side. Ghana lost away to Libya and Gabon and only got through thanks to a home record which read three wins with a goal difference of plus eight.

The second group stage was more straightforward, with Benin, Mali and Sudan in their group. Benin was expected to provide the biggest challenge, but the Squirrels were humbled 1-0 in the first game in Kumasi and Ghana never looked seriously troubled. Three 2-0 wins, away to Mali, then away and home to Sudan secured its passage.

Benin did beat it in the next match in Cotonou and it drew 2-2 with Mali in the final match, but it was of no consequence. Matthew Amoah scored four goals in the final qualifying stage.

Star men Michael Essien - Essien is a superstar of the English game who has returned to full fitness this season for Chelsea. He is no doubt the most important player to Ghana's hopes in South Africa. He will be the man who controls the Black Stars' attacking moves and will also track opposition attackers. As dynamic as Ghana are as a team, they need Essien fit and performing in the middle of the park if they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Steven Appiah - Ghana's captain has played his club football in Italy and Turkey and boasts speed and strength to go with his experience. Like Essien, he will be the man Ghana look to in the engine room to generate attack and maintain control of the game. Having finally secured his club future with Bologna, he will be looking to gain significant fitness during the Serie A season and play a major role in South Africa 2010.

Stranger than fiction Ghana became the first African nation to win the FIFA Under-20 world championship in Egypt in 2009, beating Brazil on penalties in the final. Ghana has also performed well at the Under 17 world championship, winning the titles in 1993 and 1995 and making the final on two other occasions.