Determined Stars to make amends against South Korea

Ghana will have everything to play for today at the 40,000-capacity Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, when they take on South Korea’s Taeguk Warriors in a scorching Group H encounter that will define the future of the team at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar. 

Kick-off is 4pm local time ( GMT).

Moment of reflection for the Stars as they face South Korea in a do-or-die affair
Moment of reflection for the Stars as they face South Korea in a do-or-die affair

The Stars lost their opening game 3-2 against Portugal as Cristiano Ronaldo scampered away with a ‘gift’ spot-kick that galvanised his side to victory.

On the same day, South Korea and Uruguay battled to an energy-sapping goalless game – an upshot that condemned Ghana to the bottom of the table with zero points.

What this means is that the Stars must do their damnedest and clean their clock against the Koreans tonight or kiss farewell to their fourth tournament at the group stage. Certainly, this is what Coach Otto Addo and his charges would not be proud of – and they will want to work like Trojans to avert such calamity.

Indeed, since the defeat to Portugal, the Ghana team have had a graveyard shift, working deep into the night to straighten out the contours that blighted their path on that forgettable Thursday night.

The mood in camp and at training clearly suggests that the Stars have managed to put the loss behind them and are determined to bounce back gamely and prove to all critics that it was nothing more than an aberration.

Undeniably, they need to summon the fighting spirit of their similarly-bruised 2006 predecessors who lost their opening game to Italy, but proceeded vigorously to beat Czech Republic and the USA to make it to the next stage of the campaign.

The Stars are, however, expected to come up against a tough, talented side that is equally hungry and hunting for glory at their 10th successive World Cup – 11th in total.

In spite of their growing quality, experts say the Koreans – 2002 semi-finalists – have almost always flattered to deceive against better opposition, and with their main superstar and captain – Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min, just recovered from an eye-socket injury, the Warriors should struggle a bit.

That may not entirely be true as the Koreans battled Uruguay to a heart-pumping barren game in the opening game of Group H on Thursday – and cannot be taken for granted.

Aside from Son, they also have other formidable players such as Hwang Ui-jo, Hee Chan Hwang and Lee Jae-Sung who have been with the team for a while and should constitute a biting gel against any opposition – having finished the qualifiers with seven victories and just a solitary defeat to Saudi Arabia – at a time they had already booked a ticket to Qatar. 

The stain on the Koreans’ record, however, is that they have suffered three first round exits in their last four World Cup campaigns and their Portuguese coach Paul Bento – would be thrilled to obliterate that embarrassing epitaph.

On the flipside, the Stars are yet to pick up their first victory since losing to Uruguay at the quarter-final stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In the 2014 edition in Brazil, they slumped 2-1 in their opening game against USA, shared the spoils with eventual winners Germany (2-2) before bowing 1-2 to Portugal to crash out.

Certainly, not good a record as well.

Ghana leads in the head-to-head race – the two buoyant sides having come across each other on four previous occasions, with the Stars emerging victorious three times.

That notwithstanding, the major concern of Ghanaians now is the creaking backline and they expect Coach Addo to quickly re-instill the meanness and steel that had served the Stars pretty well – especially during the final play-off qualifiers against Nigeria’s Super Eagles.

Though they were able to conjure two goals in the opener, the team’s forward-line has been another source of headache as attacker Inaki Williams has not yet had a stranglehold in his role, stumbling to a last-gasp chance that could have given Ghana an equaliser in the defeat to Portugal.

Coach Addo may be expected to make some changes to his team in today’s cracking assignment with speedsters – Fatau Issahaku and Kamaldeen Sulemana getting their maiden World Cup shot.

Thomas Partey is yet to find his rhythm in the team’s engine room and many would expect him to come to the party this afternoon. He has to get it right today.

Though odds on favourites to upstage the Koreans, Skipper Andre Ayew says he expects a blistering game from their Asian opponents – but was confident of snatching the result.

“We are aware of what the South Koreans possess – and the danger they could pose; but we are ready to give everything out to ensure we win and get ourselves back in contention,” he asserted.

Whilst victory would be a positive result for Ghana, another defeat should certainly send the Black Stars packing bag and baggage home – the latter of which the boys are prepared to fight tooth and nail to sidestep.


2006: South Korea 1-4 Ghana

2006: South Korea 1-3 Ghana

2011: South Korea 2-1 Ghana

2014: South Korea 0-4 Ghana


(Courtesy: Ministry of Youth and Sports)

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