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Old June 19, 2010, 12:07 AM
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al-Sagar al-Sagar is offline
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Default Ghana vs Australia Preview

Flying Ghana hold African hopes

The display Australia put in as they went down to a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the opening game suggests that it cannot get much worse for the Socceroos. Ripped apart by the Germans, Australia now have to rebuild and somehow gather their confidence as they face a Ghana side who picked up Africa's first win at this year's World Cup by beating Serbia.

To add to the Socceroos' woes, they have to play the game without talisman Tim Cahill after he received a one-game ban for his sending off against the Germans. The Everton midfielder formed the focal point of their 4-6-0 formation and such a lack of attacking ambition will surely be punished again if Pim Verbeek does not alter his plans.

For their part, Ghana are flying after a hard-fought win over the Serbs and, although they did not set the world alight with their display, morale is at an all-time high. Shorn of Michael Essien before the tournament, Ghana have dealt well with his absence and will look to rework the history books by beating a side that are unbeaten in their last three meetings against them.

Ghana player to watch:
Anthony Annan. He may play his club football in Norway, but Annan is one of the young stars of this Ghana side and does his best work in the centre of midfield winning the ball back. Rumoured to be on the radar of some big European clubs, he has a lot of strength for a man measuring just 5' 7'' and his tough-tackling and never-say-die attitude will be a key component in keeping the Australian attack quiet.

Australia player to watch: Lucas Neill.
After a defensive performance against Germany that saw the former Blackburn defender screaming at anyone who would listen, he will have to do a lot better if he is to keep the Socceroo defence together. Alongside Craig Moore, Neill was guilty of playing a few German attackers onside, but he should be more confident of keeping a lid on the attacking ambitions of the Ghanaians.

Key battle: John Paintsil v Brett Emerton. They have come up against each other in the Premier League playing for Fulham and Blackburn respectively, and the battle down the flank at the World Cup could prove crucial. Paintsil likes to get forward when he can, while Emerton is a converted right back himself, so both are capable of making an impact at either end of the pitch. As Australia may not play with a recognised striker, Emerton's forays down the right will be key if they are to get behind the Ghana defence, but Paintsil is as committed as they come on the pitch - even if his reputation off it is that of dressing-room joker.

Trivia: Ghana have been awarded three penalties in just five World Cup finals games, and their last two goals came from the penalty spot (against USA in 2006 and Serbia in their 2010 opener).

Stats: Australia have won only one of their eight matches at World Cup finals and have failed to score in six of these fixtures, while Ghana are yet to draw after five games at the finals.

Odds: Ghana (2.00), Australia (3.80) and the draw (3.40) are all on offer at Bet 365, but Kevin-Prince Boateng could score first at 13.00.

Australia were dire against Germany and something really has to change if they are to make an impact. Ghana are strong and talented and should overcome the Aussies.
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