World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Ghana (1-0-1) vs. Germany (1-1-0), 2:30 p.m.
Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Germany has qualified for the
knockout stage of the last 14 FIFA World Cups, but enters Wednesday's Group D
finale against Ghana in need of a victory to secure advancement.
Germany dropped its first group-stage match since 1986 on Friday, 1-0 against
Serbia, and could be eliminated prior to the knockout round for the first time
in its storied history with a loss or draw at Soccer City Stadium.
"It's do-or-die for us, so we have to go out and win," said Germany striker
Lukas Podolski, who missed a penalty kick in the loss to Serbia.
The Germans streak started in 1954, when they captured their first title, and
includes seven finals appearances and three titles in the last 14 tournaments.
Germany, which also played in the World Cup in 1934 and 1938 when there was no
group stage, was in control of Group D after a 4-0 victory over Australia, but
is in second place entering the final day of group play.
Ghana leads the group with four points and a draw is enough to get the African
nation through to the knockout round. Germany could still advance with a draw,
but only if Serbia ties or loses to Australia on Wednesday.
Germany played with 10 men against Serbia after Miroslav Klose was sent off in
the first half for two yellow cards, and never answered Milan Jovanovic's goal
one minute after the questionable sending off by referee Alberto Undiano.
Podolski also missed numerous solid chances in the run of play, Sami Khedira
hit the crossbar, and Germany survived two Serbian shots off the frame. Still,
German coach Joachim Loew believes his side can still advance.
"It was a big setback, going a man down and then letting in the goal straight
afterwards," Loew said. "In the second half, my team tried everything and put
in an unbelievable amount of work.
"We won't let our heads go down now. Our fate's still in our own hands, and
the team's very determined, so I believe we'll go through."
Klose will serve his one-match suspension against Ghana, and Cacau will likely
get his first start of the World Cup in his place.
Ghana may have an entire continent's hopes on its shoulders, as it may be the
only African country with a chance to make the knockout stage. Ghana's
offense has been non-existent, with Asamoah Gyan's penalty kicks in a 1-0 win
over Serbia and 1-1 draw against 10-man Australia the team's only goals.
"What was important was not to lose. But we were playing ten against 11 for a
long time and when it's in a competition like this, you have to do better. We
should have capitalized but we need to forget about this," Ghana's Andre Ayew
said. "We need to focus on Germany."
Ghana will have center backs John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah back after they were
forced to sit out the Australia match through injury, and coach Milovan
Rajevac is certainly glad the duo will return for the key match against the
"It's going to be an important game," Ayew said.
06/22 13:01:45 ET