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Czech Republic 0 Ghana 2


Rovermatt
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Group E, the second of the tournament's so called groups 'of death', features the hugely impressive Czechs along with perennial heavyweights Italy. However Ghana could prove a stiff challenge for all of their opponents especially considering they qualified over South Africa. They meet the Czech Republic in Cologne on the 17th of June in a game that could decide their respective fates.

How they qualified

Czech Republic-They finished second in their qualifying group behind the Dutch (losing twice to said team) before cruising through against Norway in the play-offs with a 2-0 aggregate score.

Ghana-As stated above, they topped their group, beating African power-house South Africa to Germany.

Finals record

Czech Republic-As Czechoslovakia they finished second in 1934 and 1962. This is the first World Cup for which the team has qualified since the country split in 1993.

Ghana-The Africans are making their debut.

Head to head

This is the first time that the two teams have met.

Star player

Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic)-A midfielder of skill, passion, grit and power, Nedved has been one of the best players in the world for the last decade. He may be a fading force, but his inspirational qualities remain as potent as ever. Coming out of international retirement to help his country qualify through the play-offs, the Juventus star is amazingly playing in his first World Cup (he has lit up the European Championships on three occasions). If Nedved fancies it, Ghana won't know what's hit them. He is capable of dragging his team a very long way in this tournament.

Stephen Appiah (Ghana)-Michael Essien may be the big name but Appiah, the team captain, is the heartbeat of the side. Strong, skilful and cultured he brings real quality to the midfield and his partnership with the powerful Essien is essential to the cause.

Coach

Karel Bruckner (Czech Republic)-Previously coached a successful U-21 side, many members of which now play in the senior squad. Very much a father figure, he commands total respect and his commitment to all-out attacking football is popular with both fans and players. His tactics were undermined though at the European Championships as his superior team were stifled and then beaten by the unforgiving Greeks.

Ratomir Djukovic (Ghana)-The Serbian (whose name means 'War and Peace' in Serbo-Croat) is a tough disciplinarian who has coached all over Africa. He led Rwanda to the country's first African Cup of Nations appearance in 2004. His tactics are indicative of his character, suffocating and harassing opponents into submission. He has a tendency to fall out with his players, Sami Kuffour and Stephen Appiah have both fallen foul of his temper.

Style of play

Czech Republic-A whirlwind attack of pace and movement sees Nedved, Jan Koller, the lethal Milan Baros and the veteran Karel Poborksy hit the opposition from all angles. The threat is very real be it in the air, on the ground or from the middle. Add to the mix the talents of the gliding genius Tomas Rosicky along with the adventurous left-back Marek Jankulovski and this is an exciting team to watch. The defence is often left exposed-fortunately they have the best goalkeeper in the world in Petr Cech.

Ghana-A high pressure game based on tight marking and suffocation of the opposition, Ghana aren't the prettiest side to watch. A strong defence marshalled by Roma's Sami Kuffour and a mountainous midfield barrier make the side hard to break down. Lacking creativity, they rely on their speed and the industry provided by the strong base in the middle.

Key battles

Koller-v-Kuffour-The highly rated Kuffour will have his work cut out in containing the giant Czech front man. In spite of their slick credentials the Czechs have no problem pumping the ball into Koller who is unsurprisingly effective in the air yet decent on the deck. The African is a strong, domineering centre-half who will need to be on top of his game to tie up a player whose nuisance value is as important as his goal scoring.

Nedved -v-Essien-Despite an often controversial debut year in the Premiership, Essien performed consistently in Chelsea's engine room. Tireless and bursting with power and verve, he is the ultimate modern-day 'midfield general.' He can't be intimidated by the legendary Nedved who still possesses the energy and skill to dominate every opponent no matter how youthful. Essien must be aware of the Czech's ability to collect the ball in deep positions and shoot from almost anywhere inside the opposition half.

Rosicky-v-Appiah-The Fenerbahce player is a quality perfomer in the midfield area (see above) but he must use all his experience to counter the threat posed by the Czech Republic's schemer-in-chief. Arsenal's new signing can pick up possession in any area and find space, either with his accurate passing or his tight dribbling skill, quick feet and effortless running style. He was easily the best player in the Czech team that should have won Euro 2004 and is the key component in an experienced side.

Other facts

Czech Republic

Capital-Prague

Population-10,220,000

Currency-Czech Koruna

Language-Czech

Did you know? Tourists stung by public transport inpectors in Prague are subject to a charge of 500 Koruna (£12.50) each. Czech citizens must pay double that. I found this out to my detriment back in April.

Ghana

Capital-Accra

Population-21,031,000

Currency-Cedi

(Official) Language-English

Did you know? Ghana was the first African country to gain independence from the British Empire.

My prediction

Czech Republic 2-1 Ghana.

The Czech's will have too much for spirited opponents. Good attacking options should out-fox an ultimately limited challenge.

Edited by Rovermatt
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What a fantastic game- really enjoyed it. The Czechs had no answer for the combination of physicality and ball playing prowess of Ghana.

Give me the choice of ANY COUNTRY to be the coach of at this stage, I would pick Ghana. "All" they need is more discipline between 15 and 30 yards from goal and to stick the front-runners' heads in ice buckets and they could beat anyone in Germany.

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Perhaps a bit of hyperbole, philip, but I think that Ghana's certainly been overlooked to this point.

When the draw came out I was legitimately scared of the Black Stars. Besides Essien, they have a great core of young players who are almost all playing at the highest level in Europe: Gyan and Muntari (Udinese), Amoah (Borussia Dortmund), and Appiah (Fenerbahce, formerly of Juve). Addo and Kuffour play for PSV Eindhoven and Roma, respectively, and had to content themselves with places on the bench against the Czechs.

There was a lot of attention heaped on the Ivory Coast--quite rightly, too, because they played very well against Argentina and Holland--but Ghana might just be the best African side in this tournament. And they're still capable of qualifying for the second round with a win over the U.S. on Thursday.

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Edited your post for you Eddie

:D They still did their best not to score. African sides will always create chances though I have to say that the Czechs simply didn't turn up today. Perhaps they will really suffer from not having their first choice of strikers, though they should be fit for the knock-out stages (if they make it, which I have to say is now in considerable doubt).

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