Injuries to top two Ghanaian goalkeepers potential boon for S. Korea

SEOUL– Ghana’s misfortune in goal may prove to be a boon for South Korea when the two countries clash in their second group stage match at the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

When Ghana announced their 26-man squad for the tournament Monday, the Black Stars were left without their top two goalkeepers, Joe Wollacott of Charlton Athletic and Richard Ofori of the South African club Orlando Pirates. They were both injured in club action just before the squad announcement.
That left head coach Otto Addo with three inexperienced men wearing gloves.

Lawrence Ati-Zigi of FC St. Gallen in Switzerland has the most caps among the bunch with 10. Abdul Manaf Nurudeen of Eupen in Belgium has only two caps to his credit, and Ibrahim Danlad of the Ghana-based club Asante Kotoko, 19, has yet to play internationally.

Wollacott would likely have been Ghana’s first-choice goalkeeper had he not broken a finger during a warmup over the weekend. Wollacott made his international debut in October last year and has since collected 10 more caps. His most recent international match was a 3-0 loss to Brazil in a friendly match on Sept. 23.

Ofori, with 24 caps, is dealing with a knee injury. He was in net for Ghana’s 1-0 victory over Nicaragua in a friendly match on Sept. 27.

Ati-Zigi, by virtue of having more experience than his two teammates in goal, will likely get the top job out of the gate in the World Cup. Ghana’s first Group H match is against Portugal on Nov. 24 and then they will square off against South Korea four days later before closing out the group phase against Uruguay on Dec. 2.

At No. 61, Ghana are the lowest-ranked team in Group H, behind Portugal (No. 9), Uruguay (No. 14) and South Korea (No. 28).

Just as South Korea may view Ghana as the one beatable team in the group, Ghana may regard South Korea the same.

Addo told FIFA’s website that he believed his players had what it takes to “beat anyone.”

“We need to play intelligent football, exploit our opponents’ weaknesses and bring our own strengths to the fore,” he said. “Every single game is different, and the first match will be decisive. The subsequent games depend on the first one. If we lose, we need to be more attacking in the second match (against South Korea), but if not, we can set ourselves up differently. It also depends how Uruguay and the Korea Republic play against each other. In the end, it’s about mentality.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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