Ghana are wary of a wounded United States side when the two sides open their FIFA World Cup campaigns in Natal on Monday.
The African nation have ended the United States’ run at the last two World Cups, adding another layer of intrigue to their Group G clash.
In 2006, Ghana beat the Americans 2-1 in their final group stage match to book a spot in the last 16 and knock their opponents out.
And four years later in South Africa, they repeated the trick, as Asamoah Gyan’s stoppage-time winner gave them a 2-1 triumph in a last-16 affair.
A 4-0 friendly win over South Korea earlier this month has boosted Ghana spirits but they are not getting complacent against a US side sure to be gunning for revenge.
Coach Kwesi Appiah said: “The United States are a very, very good team. It’s not going to be easy. We have to make sure our players are playing their roles well. We hope to give them a very good game.”
When asked who Ghana’s biggest rivals in a tough group also containing Germany and Portugal were, defender Jonathan Mensah told FIFA.com: “I would say the United States. They are out for revenge because we beat them twice. And it’s going to be the first game of the competition, so everybody will be expecting something better from Ghana and the United States as well.”
With Germany and Portugal, ranked second and fourth in the world respectively, also in Group C, neither side can afford to drop the opening game.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard acknowledged his side are under significant pressure to start well but that their 2010 defeat to Ghana was “ancient history” and had not been spoken about
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side – ranked 13th, 24 places above Ghana – will enter the tournament in good form after successive friendly wins against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria.
Football is steadily growing in the United States and a lengthy run in the Brazil showpiece could really ignite interest back home.
Triumphs against Italy and Germany since 2012 have shown the US have a big scalp in them and although they are without all-time top scorer Landon Donovan in Brazil, Klinsmann will hope captain Clint Dempsey can fill the void.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard acknowledged his side are under significant pressure to start well but that their 2010 defeat to Ghana was “ancient history” and had not been spoken about.
“I think it is important that we have that pressure on us in the first game because we want to win,” Howard said.
“We want to get three points in the bag. Heaven knows what is going to happen in the other game between Portugal and Germany, so if they draw, we top the group and everyone is happy, but we’ll see. I think it’s a good thing that we put a lot of emphasis on it, because if we can get the win, then we can refocus and go for Portugal. There’s no sense in looking beyond the first game.”