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Ghana's World Cup Predictions

After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's "outlook" gives a general view of their situation ahead of the tournament, while "pitfalls" has a look at any potential problems. Elsewhere, each country will predict their top scorer and breakout star while also suggesting how far they can go.

OUTLOOK

Fans will get carried away and roar the cliché "Bring on the World Cup," but that is just the spirit of anticipation speaking. Ghana aren't quite ready for the World Cup. A lot of hard work needs to be put in and the players have to be psyched out of their current flat attitude to play beyond themselves if they are to survive a group containing Portugal, the USA and Germany.

The first friendly against Louis Van Gaal's Netherlands in Rotterdam showed just how unprepared the team is. It looks different compared to the one that went through the qualifiers and coach Kwesi Appiah -- responsible for the new look -- should work hard on getting it all to jell. At the moment, Ghana do not look like a team. Appiah needs a clear idea of what he wants from his players.

PITFALLS

The defence. It is seriously ill. There are only six defenders in the squad now (Jeffrey Schlupp got dropped and Jerry Akaminko is injured). Of the six, three are center backs, two of whom -- Jonathan Mensah and John Boye -- are coming off an uninspiring season and an injury-plagued one respectively. The other one, Rashid Sumaila, had a fine season in South Africa but lacks adequate international experience.

Appiah needs to approach this with seriousness. He needs to work some last-minute magic and settle on a confident, well-composed central defensive pairing that he can trust. The two of them must develop the needed chemistry and telepathy and their strengths and weaknesses must complement each other to achieve a stable balance.

STAR SCORER

Asamoah Gyan. Ghana's record international top scorer, he is a player coming into the World Cup with 45 goals scored in 43 games across all competitions at club level this season. Forget where he plays (Al Ain, UAE) and its disputed standards -- he is scoring at will and that can only mean he is a player high on confidence in that final third. That means he is a player who is as deadly as it can get. Plus, he is just two goals away from becoming Africa's highest scorer at the World Cup and so he should be highly motivated.

Asamoah Gyan could make history for Ghana at the World Cup.

WILD CARD

Christian Atsu. The 22-year-old former Porto man has had a phenomenal season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem from Chelsea, adding a lot of maturity to his game and polishing up his raw explosiveness. Named as Vitesse's player of the season after 28 league appearances and five goals, he is skillful, quick and intelligent. He should trouble a lot of defences from the wings, preferably as sub.

PREDICTION: Group runners-up

Ghana have a thing for doing well against the odds, so qualifying out of the group is not beyond them. They just have to eschew complacency and beat the USA for a third time, squeeze a point out of Germany (Joachim Loew's side have shown that they are human, imperfect and beatable over the past few months) and go hard at the Portuguese. Second place is realistic, and achievable, but it won't come easy.