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Golden chance for Ghana; Cacau likely to start


Johannesburg: Ghana already has one milestone behind it and now stands a victory away from achieving maybe an even bigger one, sending Germany to its earliest exit from a World Cup.

Ghana became the first African team to win a World Cup game on African soil when it beat Serbia 1-0 in its Group D opener. Now it can ensure that Germany exits at the group stage for the first time ever.

Going into the decisive final round, Ghana leads the group on four points, Germany and Serbia have three and Australia is on one, meaning all four have a chance of progressing and all are at risk of missing out.

A win over Ghana would see Germany through, and a draw would be enough for the Germans if Serbia fails to beat Australia.

Both sides will be eager to improve on their previous performances: Germany suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Serbia, while Ghana failed to capitalise on an early red card to the Australians and was held to a 1-1 draw.

Germany optimistic

The Germans remained optimistic despite an unconvincing display against Serbia. Coach Joachim Loew and captain Philipp Lahm have both said Germany will advance “100 per cent.”

“We know our qualities and have no doubt that we'll make it,” striker Cacau said on Monday.

The Brazil-born Cacau is likely to start up front, as Miroslav Klose is suspended after being sent off with two yellow cards against Serbia. “I can see that my teammates have the confidence that we'll win,” Cacau said.

Central defender Arne Friedrich also exuded confidence.

“We all believe we will make it, from coach Loew down. The loss to Serbia was a blow but we still believe we'll go through,” Friedrich said.

“We are in the kind of situation where we have to prove ourselves and if we get rid of the mistakes we made against Serbia, we'll be fine. They have good forwards but if we put pressure on them we'll cause them to make mistakes.”

Germany has been in similar situations before — two years ago it needed to beat host Austria in the final group match to advance at the European Championship and it did and then went all the way to the final.

But the winning goal against Austria came from captain Michael Ballack, who was forced out of this World Cup by an ankle injury, contributing to Germany having the second youngest team in World Cup history. Kevin-Prince Boateng, the man whose tackle in the English F.A. Cup final took Ballack out of the World Cup, will be on the opposite side on Wednesday.

Mensah back

Ghana has a Serbian coach, Milan Rajevac, who will have central defender and captain John Mensah back after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the match against Australia. Mensah's usual central defensive partner, Isaac Vorsah, remains in doubt.

Like Germany, Ghana is at the World Cup without its injured regular captain, Michael Essien-Ballack's Chelsea teammate.

“I don't think there is pressure on us,” Mensah said. “They will probably have more pressure because they are the favourites.

“We all know Germany has a good team, but we believe we have a good team as well. We have to keep things tight, stay compact and I'm sure we can win the match.”

Likely XI:

Germany: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Holger Badstuber; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira; Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski; Cacau.

Ghana: Richard Kingson; John Paintsil, John Mensah, Isaac Vorsah, Hans Sarpei; Anthony Annan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari; Prince Tagoe, Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew . — AP

Germany (4-2-3-1): In the absence of Miroslav Klose, who was sent off against Serbia, Germany coach Joachim Low is likely to deploy Cacau in the lone striker role.

The only other possible change is at left-back after Holger Badstuber's struggles against Serbia winger Milos Krasic. Marcell Jansen could replace Badstuber in a direct swap, or skipper Philipp Lahm could move across from right-back to accommodate the Ghana-born Jerome Boateng.

Ghana (4-3-3): First choice centre-backs John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah, who missed Ghana's 1-1 draw with Australia, are fit again and should start in place of Jonathan Mensah and Lee Addy.

Coach Milovan Rajevac might also replace attacking midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah with the more defensively inclined Sulley Muntari in a bid to contain the German midfield.

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