Germany look to avoid unspeakable disaster against Ghana

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

JOHANNESBURG - Germany head into their final Group D game against Ghana at Soccer City Wednesday looking to avoid making unwanted history by failing to make it past the World Cup’s group stage for the first time.

Joachim Loew’s team were all smiles as they relaxed by trying their hands at rugby while warming up in Atteridgeville on Monday.

But the scene is certain to turn ugly at home should Ghana build on their achievement of becoming the first African team to win a World Cup game on African soil by sending the Germans home.

Germany went out in the first round in 1938 but there was no group stage in that edition.

Ghana currently top the group on four points thanks to a victory over Serbia in their opening game and a draw with Australia, followed by three-time world champions Germany and Serbia on three and Australia on one.

All four teams still have a chance of progressing with Germany needing a win to be certain of making the knockout stages although a draw would suffice if Serbia fail to beat Australia in Nelspruit. Ghana, meanwhile, would book their place in the last 16 with a draw.

“I’m convinced that we’re going to make it to the next round,” Loew stressed. “This team is not lacking the necessary temperament.”

Loew will keep faith with his young team against the Black Stars with the only change from the Serbia game an enforced one. Miroslav Klose is suspended following his dismissal in Port Elizabeth and will likely be replaced by VfB Stuttgart striker Cacau.

“I’m a different type of player to Miro but I’m convinced that I can stand in for him,” said Cacao. “I’ve no doubt that we can succeed, we just have to remain calm.”

Ghana have struggled to create chances so far in South Africa with both their goals coming from Asamoah Gyan penalties but the West Africans have been solid in defence and could benefit from Germany needing to chase the game.

After having to make do with the inexperienced central defensive pairing of Lee Addy and Jonathan Mensah against the Socceroos, coach Milan Rajevac can count on the return of captain John Mensah after the Sunderland player recovered from a hamstring injury.

Mensah’s usual central defensive partner, Isaac Vorsah, however, still remains doubtful.

Pulling the strings in midfield for Ghana will be Berlin-born Kevin-Prince Boateng, whose half-brother Jerome is a member of the Germany squad although is unlikely to start.

Boateng’s popularity in the country of his birth has nosedived since he turned his back on Germany, having played at youth levels up to the under-21s.

The relationship deteriorated further last month when the Portsmouth player’s tackle on Michael Ballack in the English FA Cup final ruled Germany’s erstwhile captain out of the World Cup.

Now Germany’s public enemy number one for football fans has the opportunity to make himself a permanent hate figure by helping conjure up a famous victory for Ghana.

“The Germany game will be special but if you are on the field it will be like any game of 90 minutes where you want to make one goal more than the other team,” said Boateng, trying to play down the media focus on his potential role in a German tragedy.

Team-mate Gyan, meanwhile, hoped that the 23-year-old Boateng would ignore the hype surrounding him and build on the impressive performance he put in against Australia.

“He plays a very important role in the team,” said Gyan. “I just hope he gets better and better in the future.”

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