When Ghana travels to the Education City Stadium to play South Korea on Monday, they risk being eliminated early from Group H of the 2022 World Cup.
On the first day, the Asian rivals brilliantly held Uruguay to a scoreless tie while the Black Stars suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Portugal.
On the opening round of the 2022 World Cup, there were a total of four 0-0 ties. South Korea put out a valiant effort in their 0-0 draw with Uruguay, however the woodwork did save them on a few times.
Paulo Bento’s team hung on for a point against their South American opponents, displaying their defensive resiliency that was also apparent in their most recent games before to Qatar. Federico Valverde and Diego Godin both had shots crash off the goal frame.
South Korea is looking to give their chances of finishing in the top two a significant boost with a victory over Ghana and move closer to a knockout place for the first time since 2010. Uruguay and South Korea cannot be separated by points, goals, or fair play points after matchday one.
The Tigers of Asia enter their match against Ghana having only lost one of their previous 10 games across all competitions, and the Kim Min-jae-managed defense has kept three consecutive clean sheets during a four-game unbeaten streak.
Despite their strength in the defensive third, South Korea failed to register a shot on goal during the Uruguay draw for the second time in four World Cup games, and Ghana undoubtedly had some experience holding opponents at bay during the run-up to Qatar.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored once more in a World Cup group game, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was powerless to stop the A Selecao from nearly blowing a two-goal lead against Ghana on Thursday night as he watched in dread from the bench.
After Ronaldo’s penalty, Joao Felix and Rafael Leao scored either side of Andre Ayew’s response before Osman Bukari furthered the deficit’s reduction. Diogo Costa, the goalkeeper for Portugal, nearly won the tournament’s howler award when he rolled the ball out without realizing Inaki Williams was behind him.
The 3-2 loss places Ghana at the bottom of Group H and puts them in genuine danger of being eliminated before the last matchday. The Athletic Bilbao forward instantly attempted to seize that golden opportunity right at the finish, but he slipped at the crucial time.
No matter what happens in Uruguay’s matchup with Portugal, Ghana will be eliminated if they lose to South Korea at the Education City Stadium, but the Black Stars are in good shape thanks to a six-game World Cup scoring streak.
Monday’s game will mark the 10th meeting between South Korea and Ghana in all competitions, with the last six yielding three wins apiece for both nations, but Ghana ran out convincing 4-0 winners during the most recent battle in a 2014 friendly.
Son Heung-min, who recently had an eye socket fracture, played against Uruguay while wearing a protective mask, and South Korean supporters delighted at his return to health.
Hwang Hee-chan, a fellow Premier League attacker who was a substitute on Thursday but wasn’t utilized, is suffering from hamstring tightness and won’t be able to play tonight.
Key centre-back Kim Min-jae, who has been experiencing calf soreness and is listed as questionable for the match, has also caused concern for Bento.
Otto Addo started the Ghanaian team in a defence-heavy system for the match against Portugal, and it almost paid off. However, given the importance of this victory, the Black Stars may switch to a four-man defence.
For the meeting on Monday, Addo ought to be working with all 26 players because any system change would probably jeopardize Mohammed Salisu’s position as Bukari and Kamaldeen Sulemana strive to return in a more aggressive setting.
The Al-Sadd player’s goal the most recent time out should be enough to see him keep his spot alongside Williams. Andre Ayew won the fight of the brothers with Jordan Ayew to start in the defeat to Portugal.
Although right-back Alidu Seidu and Andre Ayew did train individually from the rest of the team on Friday, there is no reason to believe that they won’t be ready for Monday.
South Korea possible starting lineup:
Seung-gyu; Moon-hwan, Min-jae, Young-gwon, Jin-su; Jung, In-beom; Na, Lee, Son; Ui-jo
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Ati Zigi; Lamptey, Amartey, Djiku, Baba; Partey, Abdul Samed; Sulemana, Kudus, A. Ayew; Williams
Where to watch:
Viewers in Ghana on watch the game on DSTV, Joy Prime, GTV Sports Plus, TV3 and other local channels. Alternatively, you can also stream the game via score808.com.
South Korea 1-1 Ghana
Ghana’s previous defensive resilience was broken with ease by Portugal, but they demonstrated plenty of attacking nous at the other end and should have no problem troubling this South Korea backline.
Bento’s side proved their worth against Uruguay, though, and we can only envisage a closely-fought battle ending with the spoils shared as the race for a top-two spot goes right down to the wire.