In the third part of PortuGOAL’s mini-series looking at Portugal’s Group H opponents at the FIFA World Cup 2022, we get the lowdown on Ghana with the help of the brilliant African football journalist Gary Al-Smith.
The Seleção open their Qatar World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday 24 November. What can Portugal expect?
Ones to watch - Who are Ghana’s star players?
Iñaki Williams, a hard worker who, with the right service, could be a game changer. His inclusion this summer injected a dose of quality upfront that the Black Stars badly need.
Kudus Mohammed, has had a barnstorming season with Ajax, particularly in the Champions League. One of the creative engines of the Ghana side, he has found new life as a false 9 in Amsterdam this campaign, scoring and assisting for fun.
Strong points/weak points – what must Portugal beware of and what can they exploit?
Strong points: Might sound cliché, but this bunch seem like they are united, and because of how inexperienced they are, that may count for something. Only two of the 26 players headed to Qatar have World Cup experience - André and Jordan Ayew.
Another strength is the individual quality. Which brings us to... Weak points - This Ghana team have hardly played together for long. A slew of very talented recent debutants, 20-something year-olds, and players who have switched nationality means cohesion may take time to build. If Portugal are united, it could give Ghana problems.
Formation and playing style – what system do Ghana usually play? Would you describe them generically as an attacking or a defensive team?
Once again, this Ghana team is so new that we find ourselves in a rare position where we cannot be dead certain of a starting XI. So many factors can go into why the coach, who is also less than nine months in the job, will choose one system over the other.
So far, he has played 4-3-3, 4-5-1, and 4-4-2. He hasn't relied on any one system.
Mood in the camp – do you think Ghana come into the World Cup in a confident frame of mind?
They had a disaster of an Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year - the worst in Ghana’s history - then somehow beat Nigeria to book a place in Qatar. And then went on a run of unimpressive performances in friendlies.
Expectation among fans is very low, but Ghanaian football history suggests that is exactly when the team can surprise. Fingers crossed!
What was the reaction in the Ghanian media and among the fans to the World Cup draw?
That it is a tough one. Fans are counting on a slum-dunk attitude to get Ghana out of the group, because, to be honest, recent form does not give much hope!
Prediction time! Give us your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place predictions for Group H.
Call me mad but... Ghana Portugal Uruguay South Korea
Our thanks to Gary Al-Smith. For all things Ghanaian and indeed African football, be sure to follow Gary on Twitter @garayalsmith.