Klinsmann’s men may suffer in the humidity.
Ghana have reached the knockout stages in the last two World Cups and could well be well on the way to a third appearance in the last 16 if they can get off to a solid start against the USA.
But the Americans certainly won’t make it easy for the Black Stars as they surprised everyone by winning their group in South Africa years ago, ahead of England, and they’ve been the dominant force in the CONCACAF region over the last two years, topping their section in qualifying with plenty to spare.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has a terrific World Cup pedigree, of course, though as a player not a manager. They are a team that fight to the end but have drawn the short straw in this year’s ‘Group Of Death’ alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana and will have to play all of the matches in the sweltering north, starting here in Natal before moving on to Manaus and ending at Recife, all via their base near Rio de Janeiro which is in the south.
That may mean Klinsmann will have to abandon his favoured pressing tactic as the class of 2014 doesn’t look as strong as the USA squad of four years ago and contains a few ageing warriors.
Clint Dempsey certainly isn’t getting any younger and strike partner Jozy Altidore often cut a forlorn figure for Sunderland in the Premier League last season. Michael Bradley is dependable and will be asked to do most of Dempsey’s running but they could struggle for goals in an ultra-competitive group in which all of the other sides have the firepower to outscore them.
Ghana look strong in midfield, where they have AC Milan’s Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari and Juventus winger Kwadwo Asamoah, and they could swamp the Americans. Brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew, who both play in France, are decent strikers and Asamoah Gyan and Schalke’s Kevin Prince-Boateng are very experienced.
They thumped fellow finalists South Korea in their final warm-up game having only lost narrowly to the Netherlands the time before and aren’t to be taken lightly in the group, though they could be suspect defensively.
Ghana simply have to win this if they are to have any hope of making the last 16 again and are fancied to do so at 6/4 as conditions are sure to play a part. Back the in-form Gyan to be the first goalscorer at 4/1.
The match kicks off at 11pm UK time on Monday June 16th at the Estadio das Dunas, Natal.