With Portugal and Germany lying in wait, both Ghana and the USA know that defeat is not an option in their opening World Cup game in Natal on Monday night.
Indeed, both sides will surely be targeting a win, aware that there won’t be many, if any, future opportunities to claim three points and take a step toward the last 16.
The affair will likely be cagey but, by the same token, the two sides are fairly evenly matched and both will seek to play their own game, take the initiative and force their opponent to operate reactively.
Both managers need to get this one right.
In Kwesi Appiah’s side there is a fairly clear dichotomy within the squad. First of all, there are the big-name players, those who play at major European club sides and who have, at one time or another since the last World Cup, removed themselves from contention from the national side. Beyond that, there are the “workers"—the less-heralded players who were present at the 2013 Cup of Nations and have formed the backbone of Appiah’s side over the last few years.
How the manager juggles and compromises between these two groups and how he manages his diverse options will be fascinating to watch.
This editorial outlines some of the key decisions the manager faces ahead of his side’s opening Group G battle with the United States.