There are a whole range of factors that will affect sports performances and, with it, sports betting. A key feature of World Cups – and team sports in general – is camp mood, and it can be the difference between victory and defeat – just see France’s performance, to be stereotypical (but correct).
Ghana and Portugal need things to go their way elsewhere if they’re to advance to the last 16 – although things are much worse for Portugal with a goal difference of minus four compared to Ghana’s goal difference of minus one tonight. Paulo Bento’s men would have been looking to go deep into the tournament on the back of Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances but a dreadful start against Germany soon turned into a calamity when Pepe was sent off and Fabio Coentrao was ruled out for the tournament.
And against the USA, they were just as bad. An early Geoff Cameron shocker saw Nani take an early lead but for the next 85 minutes the Americans outplayed them and Cristiano Ronaldo was lucky to get the chance for his fantastic cross that he put onto Silvestre Varela’s head.
Ghana could possibly count themselves unlucky not to be on the verge of going through, but defensive errors cost them a point against the USA – when they had the run of play, although their final ball let them down on several occasions as they regularly got down either flank at will – and their effort against Germany, particularly when they dominated for 20 second half minutes after having gone behind, would have been enough to beat most teams at the World Cup so far.
The worry for them is that they’ve conceded within 10 minutes of scoring and despite looking lacklustre in attack, Portugal have the players to take advantage of the opportunities given to Germany and the USA. That said, Ghana would make more appeal at the prices – before today’s news.
Taken from today’s Guardian, written by David Hills:
Two players, Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng, have been suspended indefinitely for disciplinary reasons.
Hours after a cash shipment arrived in Brazil to avert the squad’s threatened strike action over unpaid fees, Ghana’s FA released a statement to confirm that Muntari had been suspended for what they alleged was “an unprovoked physical attack” on an FA executive committee member. Muntari is yet to comment.
The statement read: “The Ghana Football Association has suspended Sulley Ali Muntari indefinitely from the Black Stars with immediate effect.
“The decision was taken in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an Executive Committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr Moses Armah on Tuesday 24 June, 2014 during a meeting. Muntari’s accreditation for the 2014 World Cup has been withdrawn with immediate effect.”
Boateng, meanwhile, was also suspended indefinitely for what the FA said were “vulgar verbal insults” aimed at the team’s coach, James Appiah, during training. Boateng confirmed he had been sent home, but denied the charges, telling the German magazine Sport-Bild: “Sulley Muntari and I were just joking around, and the coach stopped the session and sent us back to the changing room.
“Afterwards I went to him and asked what he had against me and he started yelling. He insulted me. There were words like: ‘Fuck off.’”
Boateng said he “absolutely accepts” his suspension, but added: “No one should think I insulted the coach. I’m travelling now, and I wish my colleagues all the best for the match against Portugal.”
The row over player fees had led to players refusing to train on Tuesday, prompting Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, to send a plane containing £1.76m to Brasília for the players to share.
The deputy sports minister, Joseph Yamin, told Ghanaian radio station Citi FM that the players had “insisted” on cash payments, adding: “The government had to mobilise the money and a chartered flight to Brazil.” See John Boye kissing $100,000. Spirit of the game, eh?
Appiah admitted ahead of the Portugal game that he had been suffering sleepless nights over the disputes within the squad, saying: “I can’t even close my eyes.”
That is enough to put anyone off Ghana – and if they do implode then one has to ask themselves if the 5/6 on Portugal is a massive price, especially with Pepe and Burno Alves back. But they’ve been desperately poor all tournament, loo to have little hope – and have the feel of a rickety option in a game that could turn out to be as damp as the team spirit in both camps.
After all, Ronaldo did say: “Maybe we are an average team. It would be a lie to say that we are a top team. We have a very limited team and we are not at the best level.
“This does not enable you to beat top teams. There are no miracles. We knew we would have a tough group, with perhaps teams better than us.
“I am not a hypocrite — I never thought we could be world champions, we have to be humble and know our level.”
I’ll pass on this one, while hoping that the Black Stars can live upto the latter half of their name.