Ghana face a monster challenge at this year’s World Cup after being drawn in a Group of Death against three-time world champions Germany, Portugal and the United States.
To survive this battle, Africa’s most prolific side in recent times would need to remain ruthless in the final third as there will be little margin for error.
The four-time African champions boast one of the best midfields in world football with talents like Kwadwo Asamoah, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari, Andre Ayew, Christian Atsu, Mubarak Wakaso and Michael Essien – all capable of dictating play as well as scoring from any direction.
However key to the potency of coach Kwesi Appiah’s side in Brazil is likely to be the dexterity of his central strikers as goal scoring opportunities are certain to come at a premium.
Top striker and skipper Asamoah Gyan is a proven marksman and, if fit, is certain to lead the hunt for goals. Pacy, talented, bullish, and experienced, the 28-year-old – a veteran of two World Cup finals – is at his imperious best when you hand him a big stage.
The question for most would be who earns the right to partner him or deputise for him, if Gyan is unavailable, and Appiah opts for a five-man midfield given the quality of opposition.
So who is leading the race to be Gyan’s second-in-command?
ABDUL MAJEED WARIS
Recent form suggests that diminutive Valenciennes loan star Abdul Majeed Waris is leading the race to be the authentic choice.
Super fast, direct, fearless and deadly in front of goal, this 22-year-old has proven to be capable of handling the big stage. Together with Gyan they orchestrated the 6-1 destruction of Egypt last year, a display that cemented his place in Appiah’s squad.
He also has momentum on his side after netting four goals in seven league games since joining Valenciennes in January from Russian side Spartak Moscow.
Jordan turns in impressive performances for French top-flight strugglers Sochaux weekly and seven starts in seven games since a loan move from Marseille in January says something of his status at the club.
But the son of the legendary Abedi Pele Ayew has found goals hard to come by in recent times. Just like Waris, he is 22, strong, talented, direct and can hold up play well. He also provides an aerial threat.
In fairness, however, regular switches between the wings and his central role might have affected his goal scoring. Still although recent form counts against him there is no shortage of enthusiasm or ambition in the youngster.
Unlike Waris and Jordan, Richmond Boakye in not in the squad to face Montenegro in an international friendly next week.
Still, seven caps and two goals could see him return for the final preparations for the World Cup in May. Once hailed as the best number nine in the Italian Serie B, the 21-year-old star is now on loan at Spanish La Liga strugglers Elche from Italian giants Juventus.
He is a big striker, and Boakye can use his strength to hold up play and unsettle defences, with some pace still to burn. His goal against Real Madrid in September suggests he can mix it up with the best. He remains a regular face in the Elche side with nine starts in 19 appearances, scoring three times.