World Cup: Confident Asamoah Gyan says young Ghana squad "more talented" than USMNT
The Black Stars will play their first match of this World Cup against the United States on Monday (6 pm ET, ESPN, match preview), and they are a confident group headed into their Group G opener, even if critics view them as the underdogs from Africa in a field of heavyweights.
“Ghana is the more talented team,” Gyan said on Sunday of his nation’s opener against the US. “We’ve got young, talented players who are coming up. Talking about the tournament, I think we’ve got the youngest team, and most of the players are playing well in their clubs; they are in great shape.”
There is little left to be said about the two nations’ history in the World Cup dating back to 2006, when Ghana made their debut on the sport’s biggest stage in Germany. The Black Stars toppled the Americans in the final group-stage game that year before they met again in the Round of 16 in 2010 in South Africa, with Gyan scoring the game-winner in extra time to push Ghana through to an unlikely and emotional berth in the quarterfinals.
“The United States team, they are a good side,” Gyan said. “We’ve watched them a couple of times; they are a very dangerous team. … It’s going to be like they’re coming for revenge. I think, mentally, they don’t want us to beat them for the third time, which is going to make the game very, very interesting and difficult for us.”
While Gyan will certainly be the USMNT’s defensive focus on Monday night, there are threats elsewhere in the form of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Abdul Majeed Waris, the French Ligue 1 forward who worked out Sunday and appears healthy again following a recent muscle injury.
But despite their intriguing attacking options, the Black Stars have taken their share of criticism leading up to Brazil for simply not being the same caliber as the teams that came before them. Only seven members of Ghana's World Cup class of 2010 are in Brazil, and only Gyan, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari remain from Ghana’s golden generation in 2006, when they first qualified for the World Cup.
That changing of the guard has critics – and even supporters from their own country – wondering aloud if the Black Stars still have it, and Gyan hears the rumblings.
''We know that's what everybody thinks about Ghana, rating Ghana as underdogs and the other teams as favorites, which is statistically the right thing,” Gyan said. “But in football, you can't win with names anymore.”
Ghana scored more goals than any other team in the 2014 African World Cup qualifiers (25), however, and four of their nine World Cup goals have come against the US since 2006, giving the Black Stars hope once again that in a potential do-or-die situation on Monday, they will have the heart to endure.
“I’m a player who’s ready to die for this nation,” Gyan said. “The World Cup is every player’s dream, so I’m sure everybody is going to be 100 percent. We are ready for the World Cup, and we’ll just see what happens.”