Saturday, June 26, 2010

USA vs Ghana - Preview

United States

18:30 GMT, June 26, 2010
Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, South Africa

USA's reward for beating England to the summit of Group C is a second-round meeting with Ghana instead of Germany. But given that their participation at the 2006 World Cup ended at the hands of the Black Stars, Bob Bradley and his side will not underestimate Saturday's opponents as they look to build on the momentum generated by Landon Donovan's dramatic goal against Algeria.

Four years ago in Germany, USA would have qualified for the knockout stages with a victory over Ghana in their final group game but goals from Haminu Draman and Stephen Appiah in Nuremberg condemned them to an early departure. Nine Ghanaians and seven Americans remain from that contest but, in South Africa, an improved USA side are targeting a place in the quarter-finals, and a meeting with either Uruguay or South Korea.

Competition Stats

United StatesGhana
GoalsLandon Donovan 2Asamoah Gyan 2
AssistsAsamoah Gyan 0
YellowsRobbie Findley 2Prince Tagoe 1

USA player to watch: Michael Bradley. Previously accused of benefiting from nepotism given that his father coaches the national side, the midfielder is very much a star in his own right after a brilliant World Cup to date. After scoring a crucial goal against Slovenia, Bradley was man-of-the-match in the 1-0 win with Algeria as he impressed with his all-round game. Snapping into tackles and launching counter-attacks, his was a box-to-box performance and reminiscent of one of his heroes, Roy Keane.
Ghana player to watch: Andre Ayew. Another player who has lived in the shadow of a famous father, Ayew has some act to follow in Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele. Though his progress at club level has been slow, the Marseille winger is effective for his country and shone at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and the African Nations Cup before appearing in all three of Ghana's group games in South Africa. Ayew is a sprightly presence out wide and USA will need to keep him quiet.
Key battle: Clint Dempsey v John Pantsil. The Fulham team-mates will indulge in a personal duel on Saturday with Pantsil operating at right back and Dempsey expected to play wide on the left for USA. Both men boast extensive experience and their contest could be crucial in the context of the game. Dempsey has impressed for USA in South Africa and Pantsil faces a real test in blunting his colleague from Craven Cottage.
Trivia: If Ghana emerge victorious they will match the feats of Senegal (2002) and Cameroon (1990), who are the only two African sides to have made it to a World Cup quarter-final.
Stats: Ghana's past three goals at the World Cup finals (including the second in their 2-1 win over USA in 2006) been from the penalty spot.
Odds: USA (2.70), the draw (3.10) and Ghana (2.87) with Bet365. USA to win in extra time is 13.00.
Prediction: This looks set to be a close contest and do not be surprised if it goes the distance. USA have shown their resilience in the tournament and could just nick it.

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