Ghana’s worst fears were confirmed yesterday as doctors ruled that Michael Essien’s knee injury won’t be healed until July, ruling him out of the World Cup.
Essien is the powerhouse in the Ghanaian midfield and manager Milovan Rajevac had called the 27-year-old “vital” and “one of the best players in the world”.
The Chelsea player featured in 10 out of the country’s 11 qualification games and it was hoped he would lend his experience to a mostly youthful squad.
Ghana’s chances of making it out of a strong group containing Germany and Serbia (Rajevac’s side are priced at 12/5 to go out in the round of 16) now look much slimmer, so backing them to exit at the group stage at 8/13 seems like a good bet.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Rangers’ defender Madjid Bougherra has declared himself fit for Algeria. The 27-year-old took part in his country’s training session yesterday ahead of tonight’s friendly with the Republic of Ireland.
The athletic defender is one of the Desert Foxes’ best assets and his declaration will be a boost to the team’s hopes of causing an upset in their first group game against Slovenia. They’re 2/1 to beat the Europeans.
Elsewhere, Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been confirmed as Germany’s World Cup starter between the sticks today after Bayer Leverkusen’s René Adler was ruled out of the tournament.
Germany know the value of having a good goalkeeper; Oliver Kahn won the 2002 World Cup Golden Gloves accolade after the country reached the final thanks to a string of 1-0 wins. They’re a lengthy 10/1 to reach the last two this time.