Ghana’s Black Stars would be seeking to improve their statistics at the World Cup when they take on European powerhouse Portugal in a Group H clash at the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Thursday in Doha.
Thursday’s late afternoon kick-off would mark Ghana’s 13th game in the history of the FIFA World Cup after debuting in the tournament in 2006 in Germany where the West Africans reach the round of 16.
Expectations in the West African nation were on the low until home fans watched Otto Addo’s men dispatch Switzerland in the team’s last pre-tournament warm-up game.
Ghana have played in three previous World Cup editions – 2006, 2010, and 2014, however, the squad assembly of players and the technical team would have their sights firmly fixed on at least equalling the feat achieved in 2010 when the team narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot and was ranked as the 7th best team in the competition.
Though Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu and Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey together with Inaki Williams and Ajax Amsterdam attacker Mohammed Kudus are playing at high levels, Portugal’s current squad valuation per Transfermarkt data stands at €937 million with Manchester City’s defensive duo Ruben Dias and João Cancelo among some of their top players with Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leão, and Cristiano Ronaldo all constituting a formidable threat for any opposition.
Ghana have no major injury concerns going into the opening game with skipper Andre Ayew insisting the team possess the requisite quality to qualify out of a Group that features familiar foes Uruguay and South Korea.
Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott, who suffered a last-minute injury, has been allowed to spend time with his teammates ahead of the game. He is not the only familiar face in the camp of the Black Stars. Sulley Muntari, a household name in global football, has also been interacting with the players ahead of the game. The former AC Milan and Inter Milan is are vastly experienced at the World Cup, having played in three editions.
Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken ahead of the clash with the former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward rallying support from the Portuguese while underscoring the significance of the clash.
INTERESTING FACTS AND STATS TO KNOW
- Ghana have a goals deficit at the World Cup having scored 13 and conceded 16 in 12 games in three World Cup.
- Ghana have won four games at the World Cup.
- Two of the four wins have come against European opponents – the Czech Republic (2006), and Serbia (2010).
- Ghana suffered defeat five times at the World Cup.
- Three of the five defeats have come against European oppositions – Italy (2006), Germany (2010), and Portugal (2014).
- Ghana have scored 6 goals and conceded 7 against European sides in 6 FIFA World Cup games.
- Ghana didn’t win any game at their last World Cup participation (2014).
- Ghana’s last five games have produced 3 victories and 2 losses – Brazil and Japan are the only sides to have beaten Ghana within this period.
- Ghana have scored 4 goals and conceded 7 in their last five games.
- While Ghana dismissed Switzerland 2-0 in their last warm-up game before the tournament, Portugal hammered Nigeria 4-0.
- Portugal equally have 3 wins and 2 losses from their last 5 games, scoring 10 goals and conceding 2.
- Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 the last time they met at the World Cup.
- Pepe (FC Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis), and Cristiano Ronaldo (Unattached) were all in the Portuguese squad that beat Ghana.
- Ghana had the Ayew brothers – Jordan and Andre Ayew in the squad.
PROBABLE XI vs Portugal: Lawrence Ati Zigi – Mohammed Salisu, Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku – Thomas Partey, Samed Salis, Kudus Mohammed, Tariq Lamptey, Andre Ayew (C), Inaki Williams, Jordan Ayew.