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2022 FIFA World Cup Preview: Ghana

The long wait is just about over for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with five African national teams preparing to represent the continent in Qatar. Pan-Africa Football is previewing each African national team before the group stage takes place to provide a detailed guide for viewers and supporters of African football to refer to throughout the competition. Next up in our series is a team that will be looking to surprise in Group H, the Black Stars of Ghana:

Ghana

Profile

Nickname: Black Stars

FIFA Ranking: 61

Previous appearances: 2006, 2010, 2014

Best Finish: Quarterfinals (2010)

Schedule

Group H

November 24: Ghana vs. Portugal

November 28: Ghana vs. South Korea

December 2: Ghana vs. Uruguay

Manager

Otto Addo

Born in Germany to Ghanaian parents, Addo played in the Bundesliga and represented the Black Stars during his career before starting his coaching career as a youth and assistant with German clubs. The 46-year-old also spent time as a scout for the Ghana national team before becoming an assistant at one of the clubs he played at, Borussia Dortmund. Addo’s time at Dortmund as a player and assistant coach has heavily influenced his tactical approach since becoming an assistant and then interim head coach with Ghana in February, a role that was made permanent after leading the Black Stars to a qualifying playoff round victory over rivals Nigeria.

Addo is unafraid to adjust his tactics to the situation as seen across the two legs against Nigeria but should favor an approach that utilizes one dedicated striker and two forwards on the wing, most likely a 4-2-3-1 that changes to a 4-4-1-1 when defending. Against weaker teams Ghana have been able to dominate the ball but it appears that Addo is encouraging a more direct approach against more challenging opponents and that should be the case in Qatar. At their best the Black Stars will move the ball quickly to central playmakers Thomas Partey and Mohammed Kudus, who can put primary goal threats Iñaki Williams and André Ayew in dangerous positions with their accurate passing.

Expected Formation

Goalkeepers

1. Lawrence Ati-Zigi (St. Gallen- Switzerland)
Appearances: 11

Injuries have created uncertainty at the goalkeeper position for Ghana and it appears that the Swiss-based goalkeeper is the favorite to get his chance at a major tournament. Ati-Zigi is playing consistently at club level for St. Gallen but has yet to impress over the course of his ten appearances for the senior team. An average to below average distributor out of the back who can be questionable when dealing with aerial balls in traffic, the 25-year-old however continues to show excellent reflexes in the Swiss Super League and may be the best pure shot stopper in the league.

16. Abdul Manaf Nurudeen (Eupen- Belgium)
Appearances: 2

Nurudeen gives Addo a different type of goalkeeper compared to Ati-Zigi, one who is more adventurous and not afraid to stray out of his penalty area to play the ball with his feet. The 23-year-old can be very questionable when attempting to deal with crosses and set pieces into the box and prefers to punch rather than catch the ball. This season Nurudeen has only played in four league matches for Eupen but impressed in his appearance for Ghana at the Kirin Cup in Japan over the summer and continues to develop in Belgian football.

12. Danlad Ibrahim (Asante Kotoko- Ghana)
Appearances: 0

Many Ghanaian supporters are calling for Ibrahim to get the nod despite still being 19 years of age and for good reason. The Asante Kotoko starter continues to impress in the Ghana Premier League for the reigning champions, winning the Goalkeeper of the Year at the 2021 Ghana Football Awards and helping Ghana’s under-20 team win the 2021 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations as well as starting at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. A bit shorter than the prototypical goalkeeper but very confident in his reflexes and positioning as he looks set to be the senior national team’s goalkeeper of the future. Will Addo perhaps take a risk on the young keeper in Qatar?

Defenders

23. Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg- France)
Appearances: 18
Goals: 1

Ever since the French-born center back committed to play for Ghana he continues to be a guaranteed starter for the Black Stars. Djiku is one of the better defenders in France’s Ligue 1 and is a major reason why his club Strasbourg surprised the experts by finishing in sixth place on the table in the 2021-22 season. A good passer out of the back who usually comes out on top in his duels, he has the ability to cancel out the opposition’s best forward for a Ghanaian defense that will be crucial to the team’s chances of advancing out of Group H.

4. Mohammed Salisu (Southampton- England)
Appearances: 2
Goals: 1

The aggressive and intimidating center back left many Ghanaian supporters in suspense by choosing to focus on his club career and refuse call-ups to the Black Stars but his commitment to the national team was a big relief ahead of the World Cup. Made his debut in the September friendlies, starting a partnership with Djiku that could make a massive difference in a Ghana defense that conceded far too many goals in a disappointing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. His 2022-23 season at Southampton has been inconsistent but the 23-year-old does excellently when engaging physically strong forwards.

2. Tariq Lamptey (Brighton- England)
Appearances: 2
Goals: 0

A tireless right back with exceptional speed who will give Ghana an extra dimension when he gets forward. The Chelsea youth product started with English youth national teams but made the decision to switch to Ghana over the summer, a move highly celebrated by Black Stars supporters. Made a substitute appearance for his debut against Brazil in September and it will be interesting to see if Addo decides to start him or go with the more defensively solid Denis Odoi.

14. Gideon Mensah (Auxerre- France)
Appearances: 10
Goals: 0

Mensah spent time at Red Bull Salzburg after graduating from the renowned West Africa Football Academy (WAFA) in Ghana, spending several seasons on loan in Austria, Belgium, Portugal and France before moving on a permanent transfer to Auxerre for the 2022-23 season. Very good crosser of the ball from the left back position who thrives when attacking rather than defending. Is a defensive liability, however, and it appears Addo will opt for the more experienced Baba Rahman in Qatar.

For more detail on Mensah’s style of play click here to read our scouting report of the Ghana left back.

18. Daniel Amartey (Leicester City- England)
Appearances: 44
Goals: 0

A defender who is known for his versatility for both club and country, Amartey can step in to play center back, right back or in the defensive midfield making him a valuable depth option. Is strong in the air with good speed and also capable when on the ball. Was a star in Scandinavian football with spells in Sweden and Denmark before making the move to the English Premier League with Leicester in 2016.

3. Denis Odoi (Club Brugge- Belgium)
Appearances: 4
Goals: 0

Odoi is a reliable defender at the right back position who appeared in a friendly match for his country of birth, Belgium, in 2012 before committing to play for Ghana this year at 34 years of age. Stepped right into the starting lineup for the crucial World Cup qualifying playoff matches against Nigeria. Odoi is not an exciting and spectacular option who can get up and down the flank like Lamptey but coaches know that he will fulfill his defensive duties with enthusiasm.

15. Joseph Aidoo (Celta Vigo- Spain)
Appearances: 10
Goals: 0

Aidoo rose to prominence as a starter on the Ghana under-20 national team that made it to the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup while playing for Ghana Premier League club International Allies where he was the club captain at the age of 19. Despite being a first team regular for the last three and a half seasons at La Liga club Celta Vigo, Aidoo has not secured a regular starting position with the Ghana senior national team but is an excellent backup option for Addo.

17. Baba Rahman (Reading- England)
Appearances: 48
Goals: 1

An ill-fated move to Chelsea in 2015 led to a miserable stretch of injuries from 2017 to 2020 that saw Rahman missing in action more often than he was available but his quality always shows with the Black Stars. The left back now has a stable club situation with second tier English side Reading and the former Asante Kotoko star is fit and ready for his first World Cup. Rahman is a veteran starter at this point, adequate in both defense and attack as he prepares to surpass the fifty appearance mark for Ghana in Qatar.

26. Alidu Seidu (Clermont- France)
Appearances: 3
Goals: 0

A diminutive defender who is a great option as a center back in a three-player defensive line or as a defensive right back, the 22-year-old is a versatile backup for Addo. Seidu is a graduate of the Jean-Marc Guillou youth academy in France and helped current club Clermont gain promotion to Ligue 1 following the 2020-21 season.

Midfielders

5. Thomas Partey (Arsenal- England)
Appearances: 40
Goals: 14

A central midfielder who was known for his energy and stamina at the beginning of his professional career in Spain with Atlético Madrid, the current Arsenal star has developed into an excellent technical player for club and country. Ghana’s captain enjoys making important plays for the Black Stars with his crucial free kicks playing a major role during the qualification campaign for a team that struggled to produce goals. Ghanaian supporters are delighted to see Partey in the form of his life and finally free of injuries for his first World Cup where he will be in a central playmaking role.

20. Mohammed Kudus (Ajax- Netherlands)
Appearances: 16
Goals: 4

The Right to Dream academy graduate is another player in the squad who is finally putting together a good season for his club after moments of brilliance were cancelled out by extended spells on the sidelines due to injury. Kudus is Ghana’s most creative attacking midfielder, composed when in possession of the ball with an excellent left foot that can produce magic. Ghana are a weaker side when Kudus is not in the lineup and the 22-year-old is more than capable of catapulting to an elite club if he can put together a strong tournament in Qatar.

7. Abdul Fatawu Issahaku (Sporting CP- Portugal)
Appearances: 11
Goals: 0