Nyantakyi: Ghana will "sail through" World Cup group phase


Ghana may have to take on Germany, Portugal and the United States in their World Cup group but the Black Stars will 'sail through', says the country's FA President.

Despite the challenge of taking on the Germans, one of the favourites for this month's tournament in Brazil, and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, the Black Stars are in confident mood.

"The group has been tagged as a 'group of death ' - and rightly so - but we'll sail through," Ghana FA (GFA) President Kwesi Nyantakyi told BBC Sport.

"I'm very optimistic about that."

Nyantakyi was speaking in Rotterdam, where Ghana were beaten 1-0 by the Netherlands on Saturday night.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal fielded a strong side that included playmaker Wesley Sneijder playing behind Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, whose fifth-minute goal separated the sides.

"We didn't field our first team in the first half, whereas the Dutch did, but we matched them," Nyantakyi continued.

"I believe the second half performance was better and the players gave a good account of their individual and team abilities."

"It was a good exercise, and the coaches now have a better impression of the team."

Kwesi Nyantakyi (centre)
Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi

Despite limiting the Dutch in the second period, the Black Stars - who named their final 23-man squad on Sunday - failed to muster a meaningful strike on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Four years ago, Ghana came closer than any African team in history to reaching a World Cup semi-final.

Only the third team from Africa to reach the quarter-finals, they were denied a place in the last four when Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty in the last minute of extra-time against Uruguay, with the Ghanaians going on to lose the resulting penalty shoot-out.

Then under the guidance of Milovan Rajevac, Ghana are now coached by his assistant in South Africa, Kwesi Appiah, who was recently handed a two-year contract extension.

Having never qualified prior to the 2006 World Cup, the Ghanaians are now set for their third straight finals and Nyantakyi insists that the country's football has measurably improved since the last World Cup.

"We are more experienced now and so the organisation is better," said a man who assumed control of the GFA in 2005.

"The selection of players is also better - because we have a better monitoring system in place.

"We have scouts around, we rely a lot on technology now, the players are well motivated and we have a better co-operation and better support from management to the technical team and players. Things are better."

The sole dark cloud came on Saturday night when defender Jerry Akiminko was ruled out of the World Cup after falling awkwardly in the very last minute of the Rotterdam friendly.

"X-rays have revealed that there is a fracture to the left ankle joint- that is the fracture of the fibula bone. What will have to be done is surgery," Dr Baba said

"If surgery is done, and depending on his rehabilitation, we will give him at least three months to be able to fully recuperate from the injury and start playing."

Akaminko's injury leaves Ghana short of options in a defence that will be fully tested by the likes of Miroslav Klose, Thomas Mueller and Ronaldo later this month. Ghana may have to take on Germany, Portugal and the United States in their World Cup group but the Black Stars will 'sail through', says the country's FA President.