Ghana amped up to play Americans

By and

BONN, Germany-Ghana is ready for its high-pressure game against the United States-even with two key suspensions.

The Black Stars have a chance to advance to the second round in their first trip to the World Cup. A win over the Americans qualifies them, and might even place them first overall in the group. A tie would still give Ghana a decent chance of making the second round, provided Italy beats the Czech Republic.

Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari, who both scored in the Black Stars’ stunning 2-0 win Saturday over the Czechs, will miss the U.S. game because each has received two yellow cards in the opening round. Still, Ghana coach Ratomir Dujkovic vows his team will be ready for the “crucial” matchup with the Americans.

“The players play in Europe in important teams and important leagues so they have these habits to adapt themselves, to prepare for the coming match,” Dujkovic said.

He said his efforts would now be aimed at calming his players before they face the Americans.

“Coaches always have the same problem,” Dujkovic said. “When you lose you have to improve morale in the team. Now we have to calm down the players in these coming days.”

Against the Czechs, Gyan gave Ghana an early lead when he scored 68 seconds into the match-the fastest goal in the tournament so far.

Gyan missed a second-half penalty shot and Czech keeper Petr Cech stopped successive Ghana chances before Muntari put the his team up 2-0 in the 82nd minute.

Replacing the duo will be tough.

“I’ll try to find a replacement,” Dujkovic said. “It’s a bit difficult for us because the next match is crucial … The Americans will play to win.”

Striker Razak Pimpong, who played as a substitute in both the win over the Czechs and an opening loss to Italy, is likely to start for Gyan, while Dujkovic has several midfield choices to fill the space left by Muntari.

The Serb coach, speaking after Saturday’s match with a Ghana flag draped on his shoulders, said there had been calls for his dismissal after the Black Stars’ opening 2-0 loss to Italy.

“That’s part of the job … When we lost against Italy it was logical for some Ghanians to ask for my head,” he said with a grin.

The 60-year-old former goalkeeper came close to being fired earlier this year, when Ghana was eliminated at the group stage of the African Cup of Nations after losses to Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

“The coach always has to have is luggage ready,” he said. “It’s especially true in African countries, where they like football so much and they are very emotional.”


Ghana players celebrate their second goal against the Czech Republic on Saturday in Germany. Ghana will play the USA on Thursday.