- There have been no new injury concerns for the Black Stars.
- Kudus Mohammed and Thomas Partey should start for Ghana after sitting out the friendly against Switzerland.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is fit for Portugal and should lead the line for the Europeans.
- Nuno Mendes will be assessed before the game.
The last time the two teams met, the circumstances were much more different, much darker even.
The Black Stars had just become the most infamous football team in the world (at the time), having had about $4 million flown to them in Brazil a few hours earlier.
Pictures of some of the players kissing the money were plastered all over social media. It was very embarrassing to be a Black Stars fan back then.
Fast forward eight years and things aren’t too different but they are slightly better.
Ghanaians are still warming up to the national team but a few good performances and a generally, more positive vibe have certainly improved many fans’ disposition toward the team.
Otto Addo’s side might not be the most flamboyant but they are definitely efficient; the victory on aggregate against Nigeria is a very good example of that.
In fact, the only two games the Black Stars have lost in nine under Addo were in friendly matches against Japan and Brazil, games which ultimately served a bigger purpose in helping the coach get a better idea of the players at his disposal.
In their four competitive games, the Black Stars are unbeaten under Otto Addo (3 draws and 1 win). They might not always win but they do their best not to lose.
Against a start-studded Portugal today, not losing might just be enough for a lot of people.
Otto Addo has been quick to dismiss any idea that the Black Stars might be happy with a draw against Portugal, insisting that his team will aim for all three points.
A win for Ghana shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand as, despite the level of quality in their side, Portugal aren’t the most stable team at the moment.
Round of 16 exits in their last two major tournaments and a UEFA Nations League exit to Spain have put head coach, Fernando Santos under some pressure.
Recent developments around their captain, Cristiano Ronaldo have also put more focus on a team that until recently, crumbled at the slightest sign of pressure.
Santos has rejected suggestions that this increased scrutiny might affect his side’s focus.
There is a lot at stake for both teams – for Ghana, a chance to show appreciation for the renewed support from fans and banish the demons of 2014.
For Portugal, it is an opportunity to silence doubters and make a case as one of the favourites to win it all.
WHAT THEY SAID
Black Stars head coach, Otto Addo
“Surely we want to survive the group stage. We want to go game by game so our full focus is on the Portuguese game. If we don’t look too far and we concentrate on the next game, I think we can do something.”
“From there, nobody knows, it depends on who you get and also how you play. It’s very difficult to predict so our main focus is to win against Portugal, which will be very difficult. After that, we’ll look at the next step.”
Black Stars captain, Andre Ayew
“We all know that Portugal are the favourites on paper. But after, we have to show that what is on paper is not what will happen on the pitch. So we are ready.
“We know we are playing a big side who were European Champions some years back, and who have top players. But we believe in ourselves and we know what is ahead of us. We are going to do everything to make it difficult for them”
“We are prepared for opponents that will cause us a lot of problems. Ghana are a very well-organised team. Their game against Switzerland showed that.”
“African teams have a lot of talent, unpredictability, and are always improving tactically. Today they are much more complete teams.”
Portugal midfielder, Bruno Fernandes
“Ghana can cause us a lot of problems because they are a fast team, with a lot of physical strength. We know they always put on great performances.”
“It will be a very difficult game, it’s the opener, which everyone wants to win. What Cristiano has said has no impact, our focus is on the national team and doing our best in tomorrow’s game.”
- Having qualified for three-straight World Cups between 2006 and 2014, Ghana will be playing at their fourth World Cup in Qatar after missing out on the 2018 tournament in Russia.
- Ghana have played nine matches under Otto Addo, winning four, losing two and drawing three
- The Black Stars have lost two of their previous three opening matches at the World Cup
- The Stars have won four matches in total at the World Cup, Nigeria (6) is the only African country with more victories
- Ghana have found the net in each of their last five Fifa World Cup games and could become the third African side to score in six in succession in the competition, after South Africa (6 between 1998 and 2010) and Nigeria (8 between 1994 and 1998)
- Since the start of detailed Opta World Cup data, Ghana have averaged the most shots-per-game in the Fifa World Cup among all teams competing in 2022 (19)
- Should he play, Ghana captain André Ayew will have appeared in more matches in the competition than any current player for African nations (8, currently 7).
- Portugal are winless in their last three opening games of a Fifa World Cup tournament (D2 L1)
- Portugal have won only three of their last 14 World Cup matches (D6 L5), each of them coming in the group stage of the competition
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored each of his seven Fifa World Cup goals in the group stage
- Ronaldo is one of only five players to score in four different Fifa World Cup tournaments, alongside Pelé, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Lionel Messi. No player has scored at five different tournament.
Head to head
- Ghana and Portugal have faced each other once at the senior level
- Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in their final group game at the 2014 World Cup
Kick-Off: 16:00 GMT (4pm Ghana) (18:00 CAT)
Venue: 974 Stadium
Referee: Ismail Elfath (USA)
Coverage: Analysis on Citi TV from 14:00 GMT (2pm Ghana)
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