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Ghana

Ghana

Team Widget

Team Profile: Ghana

GettyImagesGhana qualified for the 2006 second round with a 2-1 defeat of USA

Appearances at finals:
2006 - Second round

Overall record at finals: Played 4, Won 2, Drawn 0, Lost 2.

Best performance: Second round in 2006.

Most appearances at finals: Richard Kingson (2006), John Paintsil (2006) - 4.

Most goals at finals: Stephen Appiah (2006), Sulley Muntari (2006), Haminu Dramani (2006), Asamoah Gyan (2006) - 1.

World Cup high: Making the second round at the 2006 finals, having finished behind eventual winners Italy in the group stage, before losing to reigning champions Brazil in the last 16.

World Cup low: Failing to qualify for the finals prior to 2006 despite being the second most successful team in African Nations Cup history, qualifying for five successive Olympic Games and enjoying considerable success at world youth level.

World Cup legend: Michael Essien excelled in midfield at the 2006 finals but the words Ghana and 'legend' are inextricably linked to a player who never played in a World Cup. Striker Abedi Pele is widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, scoring 33 goals in 73 appearances for the 'Black Stars' and captaining the side on numerous occasions during his 16-year international career. He could never inspire his team to the finals, however.

The story so far: It may surprise some that Ghana's second consecutive appearance at the finals is only their second ever. They are the most successful team in African Nations Cup history, along with Egypt, with four titles and have excelled at youth level.

Ghana's qualification record does not even boast any near misses, with a fourth-place finish behind Nigeria, Libya and Sudan in qualification for the 2002 finals (which would have seen them miss out on an African Nations Cup place had they not been hosting the tournament) and third place behind Morocco and Sierra Leone for the 1998 finals. And the Black Stars were defeated by Algeria, Liberia, Libya, Guinea, Zaire and Nigeria in qualification for the 1994, 1990, 1986, 1978, 1974 and 1970 finals respectively. The failure in 1994 was the biggest surprise as the 'Black Stars' had narrowly lost the 1992 African Nations Cup final and could boast an impressive strikeforce of Abedi Pele and Tony Yeboah.

But in 2006 they made a first World Cup finals appearance and impressed by emerging runners-up from a tough group and advancing to the second round at their first attempt. After an opening defeat to eventual winners Italy, the 'Black Stars' defeated Czech Republic (2-0) and USA (2-1) before reigning champions Brazil knocked them out at the last 16 stage - the 3-0 scoreline a reflection of Ghana's defensive naiveity in a match in which they had often troubled Brazil in attack.

Qualification: Aside from the hosts, Ghana were the first African team to secure their passage to the 2010 finals when they qualified after winning their first four games of the final round of qualification. But it was certainly not all plain sailing for the 'Black Stars' as they had just scraped through the first group stage, edging out Gabon and Libya for top spot on goal difference, having lost away to both sides, when all three were tied at the end of the group.

In the final round, though, Ghana began to dominate, securing consecutive victories over Mali, Benin and Sudan (twice) without conceding a goal to book their place at the 2010 finals.

Qualifying record (second round): P6, W4, D0, L2, F11, A5, Pts12.

Qualifying record (third round): P6, W4, D1, L1, F9, A3, Pts13.

Most appearances: Richard Kingson (12).

Top goalscorers: Matthew Amoah (5).