Key men missing for Ghana as they look to make history


Johannesburg : Ghana will become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup if they beat Uruguay at the Soccer City stadium Friday.

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But they could be without up to four key players as they attempt to make history.

The 20-year-old Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew has been a revelation in midfield but is suspended along with central defender Jonathan Mensah.

And the Black Stars also look set to be without Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has a hamstring injury, and Germany-based left back Hans Adu-Sarpei, who has a calf problem.

It was Boateng who scored against the United States in the last round making Ghana, only the third African team in history to reach the quarter-finals after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal 2002.

Boateng will be sorely missed if he fails a late fitness test, as will Ayew who captained the country when they became the first African team to win the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, in Egypt last year.

Ghana, the youngest team in this tournament with an average age of 24 years, are already without their biggest midfield star, Michael Essien, who failed to recover from a knee injury in time for the World Cup.

Coach Milovan Rajevac, affectionately known as ‘Milo’ in Ghana, will call on Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari to replace Ayew after Ghana tried unsuccessfully to have the youngster’s second yellow card over-turned.

Jonathan Mensah, who shone in place of the injured Isaac Vorsah against the US, should be replaced by Vorsah, who is now back in full-training.

Despite the absentees, the Black Stars have remained upbeat that history beckons on Friday in their first-ever clash with Uruguay.

“We’re focussed and wish to do Ghana and the whole of Africa proud. The team spirit is very high and we know Africa is solidly behind us. We only have to keep our discipline on the pitch, play for each other and we will be fine,” said Fulham defender John Pantsil.

If Ghana are looking to break new ground, Uruguay will be out to relive past glories. They won the inaugural World Cup, that they also hosted, in 1930 and 20 years later in Brazil.

A resolute defence, well-marshalled by skipper Diego Lugano has only let in one goal so far. And Diego Forlan, with two goals, and Luis Suarez, with three, have excelled in attack.

Forlan suffered a toe injury in the team’s last game against South Korea, while defender Diego Godin has a left thigh injury. However, both players took part in training Wednesday.