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Monday, March 30, 2009

Ghana (GHA)

Ghana reached their first-ever FIFA World Cup finals™ in Germany in 2006 despite having long been a dominant force on the African scene.

The Black Stars' debut performance at the FIFA World Cup finals was impressive, seeing them through the first round, where they won matches against the Czech Republic and USA before being eliminated by Brazil.

Prior to qualifying, Ghana had been not successful since first entering the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 1962, starting with a 6-3 aggregate win over great rivals Nigeria before losing to Morocco.

The Black Stars have won four previous CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982), as well as two FIFA U-17 World Cups. In addition, Ghana has produced a steady stream of some of the best African players to emerge down the years, including Osei Koffi, Abdulrazak Karim, Ben Acheampong and George Al Hassan, without forgetting 1990s stars Abedi Pele of Marseille and legendary striker Anthony Yeboah.

Ghana hosted the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals but lost in the semi-finals, hit by injury and suspension.

Ghana rely heavily on Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien. That star duo aside, talented midfielder Sulley Ali Muntari, striker Matthew Amoahand defenders Samuel Kuffour and John Mensah also count as the team's key components.

Veteran French coach Claude Le Roy had said he would leave the job if he did not win the continental crown and, after initially being persuaded to stay on, he left in May 2008, turning down a contract extension. Three months later, the GFA turned to Serbian Milovan Rajevac, 54, to lead the team's bid to qualify for both the 2010 FIFA World Cup and CAF Africa Cup of Nations.