Ghana: It’s tough to know what to anticipate from Ghana, who’re exterior the highest 60 of Fifa’s rankings and had an unspeakably unhealthy African Cup of Nations in January, ending backside of their group with only one level, struggling the humiliation of defeat by the hands of Comoros alongside the way in which.
That disastrous displaying earned Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac his P45 and he was changed with the previous Borussia Dortmund midfielder Otto Addo. Nonetheless employed by the Bundesliga aspect as a scout, he promptly steered Ghana by means of a World Cup play-off in opposition to Nigeria. Former Brighton supervisor Chris Hughton, former Dutch worldwide George Boateng and former Nordsjælland coach Mas Dramani are additionally a part of Ghana’s new management construction.
Portugal: Diogo Costa, Joao Cancelo, Danilo Pereira, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Otavio, Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Abdul-Rahman Baba, Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Mohammed Salisu, Alidu Seidu, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Andre Ayew, Inaki Williams.
Portugal: Coach Fernando Santos says squad are as built-in as they’ve been in years regardless of the enduring cleaning soap opera. Nick Ames stories from Doha.
Interview: “That’s after I went to speak to my grandad. I advised him there was an opportunity that I may play for Ghana on the World Cup and what did he assume. He mentioned immediately that he didn’t have lengthy left to reside and he dreamed of his grandson enjoying for Ghana. There was nothing left to consider then.” Sid Lowe discovers finds out what modified the thoughts of an initially reluctant Inaki Williams and satisfied him to declare for Ghana, the nation from which his dad and mom hail and during which he was conceived.
Portugal’s supervisor speaks: “Successful a event like that is extraordinarily tough for any group, for any nation,” mentioned Fernando Santos. “You solely want take a look at these first few video games to see that clearly. I used to be watching the Croatia-Morocco recreation simply now, and also you see very even contests.
“That’s as a result of a lot of the gamers are in the identical leagues. In opposition to Ghana, for example, two or three of their gamers are adversaries of Bruno [Fernandes, who was sitting alongside him] in the identical championship. They play for giant groups and are used to the tactical points at play. Up to now you’ll see a distinction, however these days you don’t, particularly as all of the coaches are of a particularly excessive degree.
“We’re ready for opponents that can trigger us lots of issues. Ghana are a really properly organised group. Their recreation in opposition to Switzerland confirmed that. African groups have lots of expertise, unpredictability, and are all the time bettering tactically. Immediately they’re much extra full groups.”
On the Ronaldo palaver: “Will it take away our focus?” he requested. “No, it received’t. I haven’t even heard the gamers discuss it at any time right here, at coaching, throughout leisure time, once they’re enjoying video games equivalent to desk soccer, not even Ronaldo himself. Perhaps of their rooms they activate the TV, they speak to their households, they do what they need.
“However what’s essential is the overall focus I see in my gamers and a implausible spirit, very in tune with what they should do, what our targets are, whereas on the similar time conscious of the difficulties that we’ll face as a result of they’ve a practical outlook.”
Ghana’s supervisor speaks: “We’ve got high quality and may compete,” mentioned Otto Addo. “We’ve got to be courageous and self assured. We’ve got seen in a few of the upsets that little issues resolve the video games and we count on it to be the identical in opposition to Portugal.”
Requested if he thought the hoop-la surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United would impact immediately’s recreation, Addo had this to say. ““I don’t know and to be trustworthy I don’t care. This isn’t our downside and I don’t assume it’s an enormous downside. All people needs to win and it doesn’t matter what occurs it’s an enormous stage an enormous recreation on the World Cup degree. So I don’t assume usually this may disrupt anyone.”
Immediately’s match officers
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Kyle Atkins and Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Stéphanie Frappart
Video Assistant Referee: Armando Villarreal
Early group information
Diogo Jota’s absence from the Portugal squad resulting from a calf damage means group supervisor Cristiano Ronaldo Fernando Santos is prone to begin Bernardo Silva and one in every of Joao Felix or Rafael Leao up entrance alongside His Lordship, whereas there are considerations over the health of PSG left-back Nuno Mendes.
Together with a backroom group that options Chris Hughton and George Boateng, Otto Addo is believed to don’t have any damage considerations and can deal his beginning XI from a full deck. He can be compelled to decide on an inexperienc ed goalkeeper after Charlton’s Jojo Wollacott and the South Africa-based Richard Ofori had been dominated out of this World Cup by means of damage. Lawrence Ati-Zigi (2), Manaf Nurudeen (2) and Danlad Ibrahim (0), Ghana’s three goalkeepers in Qatar, have simply 4 senior caps between them.
Constructed from delivery containers and different ins and outs, the short-term enviornment that’s Stadium 974 performs host to immediately’s Group H encounter between Portugal and Ghana. A lot as he would really like it, Cristiano Ronaldo has been dominating the headlines within the build-up to this recreation and can be underneath stress to ship within the wake of that interview with that man, an act of insubordation that resulted in him severing ties with Manchester United earlier this week. A massively self-regarding cog in a group brimful of abilities that usually appear cowed in his presence, it stays to be seen whether or not Ronaldo can be extra assist than hindrance as group embark on this World Cup marketing campaign.
In Qatar on the again of a play-off win in opposition to Nigeria, Otto Addo’s Ghana come into this event on the again of pleasant wins over Nicuragua and Switzerland, which got here within the wake of a 3-0 defeat by the hands of Brazil. There’s a suggestion that Addo doesn’t know his finest aspect, however obtained a lift in September when Brighton right-back Tariq Lamptey, who qualifies for the Black Stars by means of his father, determined to declare for Ghana.
Lamptey joins his fellow Premier League gamers Mohammad Salisu (Southampton), Daniel Amartey (Leicester Metropolis) and Thomas Partey (Arsenal) and Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) within the Ghana squad. Like Lamptey, Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams additionally declared for Ghana in current months on the behest of his grandad and numerous Ghanaian officers. The striker’s dad and mom crossed the Sahara searching for a brand new life in Spain when “Kweku” was nonetheless in his mom’s womb. Apparently, Inaki’s youthful brother Nico got here on as a sub for Spain of their demolition of Costa Rica yesterday.
Anyway, sufficient introductory chat – kick-off in Doha is at 4pm (GMT) however keep tuned within the meantime for group information and build-up.