South Korea hope to twinkle against Black Stars
South Korea hold a slight historical edge over Ghana going into this final World Cup warm-up, having won three out of five previous encounters.
Hong Myung-Bo will be able to field several midfielders with top-flight experience in the Premier League, including Bolton winger Lee Chung-Yong and former Celtic and current Swansea playmaker Ki Sung-Yueng. The Taeguek Warriors boss will be hoping that the British-based duo will provide enough balance to see South Korea over the line in their last pre-tournament friendly, with his side at 11/5 to beat the Black Stars.
In the most recent head to head between the two sides, South Korea emerged as 2-1 victors, with Borussia Dortmund’s new signing Ji Dong-Won on the scoresheet. The striker was at the centre of Premier League controversy this season, having played for Sunderland in several matches whilst ineligible, before returning to previous Bundesliga loan club Augsburg. The forward was the first to net against Ghana in the last clash between the countries, and is at 10/1 to be the East Asian side’s top World Cup scorer.
He will have to stave off competition from compatriot, and fellow Bundesliga talent, Son Heung-Min, who was on target 10 times in 29 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen this term. Arsenal forward Park Chu-Young is also set to compete for a starting spot, with he and Son at 6/1 to be South Korean top scorer.
Ghana, meanwhile, will be eager to shake off a run of poor form, with two defeats in the past two games. Despite Black Stars boss James Kwesi Appiah’s protestations that defeat in this match would mean nothing, victory would surely be a timely boost. They are 7/5 to end their drought against South Korea, and 9/4 to qualify from a tricky World Cup group that includes Portugal, USA and Germany.
Appiah will be able to call upon AC Milan men Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari for the West African side. Vice-captain Essien, formerly of Chelsea and Real Madrid, will provide valuable experience to a young squad, and may be utilised in defence due to injuries.
Similarly, Muntari also brings a wealth of European experience to the Black Stars, having impressed in stints at Portsmouth and Udinese, before originally earning a transfer to Milan’s city rivals Inter in 2008.
The main man for Appiah will undoubtedly be, Kwadwo Asamoah, another of the Ghana squad who has made his football home in Serie A. Often playing second-fiddle in domestic football to an impressive Juventus midfield that boasts options including Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, Asamoah has made the left back position his own, but will likely start in midfield for his country.
The scoring burden will instead remain with Captain Asamoah Gyan at 5/2 to be leading Ghana goal machine, and the mercurial Kevin Prince-Boateng. The fiery former Portsmouth and AC Milan attacking midfielder is 11/2 to be top scorer for the Black Stars. However, with Ghana having failed to hit the target in their previous five internationals, they are at 16/1 to draw a blank in the World Cup finals.