GELSENKIRCHEN -- Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng is looking forward to meeting U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones in their first match in Group G at the World Cup.
Before Jones left Schalke 04 last winter, he and Boateng became friends during their six months together at the Royal Blues. In December, the pair followed the World Cup draw on the Schalke team bus and were glad to be drawn together.
"We sat next to each other during the draw. The U.S. was drawn, Germany was drawn, Ghana was drawn," Boateng told ESPN FC. "We had to laugh, and Jermaine said: "Just think that the U.S. and Ghana make it out the group, and we knock Germany out."
Both Boateng and Jones were born in Germany, but fell out with the German FA and decided to switch allegiances. While the former opted for Ghana, the latter decided to wear the USMNT shirt. On June 16, Jones and Boateng will battle it out in Natal in their first game on Brazilian soil this summer.
"Jermaine plays in holding midfield, and I, hopefully, in attacking midfield. I've told him that I will play the ball through his legs, and he replied that I will no longer be able to run after that," Boateng added, although he admitted that both had not talked about the World Cup in a while. "It'll be enough to see him on the pitch."
The game against the Jurgen Klinsmann's side will be a crucial first test for the Black Stars, with expectations flying high around Ghana. Only recently, Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi tipped the Black Stars to win the World Cup in Brazil. In 2010, Ghana were stopped by Uruguay (and Luis Suarez's hand) in the quarterfinals and were the last African side to exit the tournament.
"We are stronger than in 2010. We have more experience and it is very important that Michael Essien is back. That gives us an extra push," Boateng said. "I don't want to set goals; I don't want to say I want to make it to the semifinal or like the president said "to win the World Cup". When we play with focus and discipline, we have the chance to be better than in 2010. But we need to win the first group game against the U.S.
"The people in Ghana want us to win the World Cup. A whole continent is waiting that someday an African nation will win the World Cup. Those are the hopes in Ghana. Everyone prays for that," Boateng said. "Let's see how far we can go. We want to make Ghana happy, but winning the World Cup is not exactly an easy job."
While Boateng believes that Germany lack a real leader and have too much pressure on them going into the World Cup, the former AC Milan star believes that title holders Spain and hosts Brazil will make it all the way to the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro.
"Brazil are not only hosts, but also have an outstanding team. And Spain is also there at the very top," Boateng said. "That would be a nice final."