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Germany and Ghana in decisive match

Johannesburg: Ghana already has one
milestone behind it and now it stands a victory away from
achieving maybe an even bigger one, sending Germany to its
earliest exit from a World Cup.

Ghana became the first African team to win a World Cup
game on African soil when it beat Serbia 1-0 in its Group D
opener. Now it can ensure that Germany exits at the group
stage for the first time ever.

Going into the decisive final round, Ghana leads the
group on four points, Germany and Serbia have three and
Australia is on one, meaning all four have a chance of
progressing and all are at risk of missing out.

A win over Ghana would see Germany through, and a draw
would be enough for the Germans if Serbia fails to beat
Australia.

Both sides will be eager to improve on their previous
performances: Germany suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Serbia,
while Ghana failed to capitalize on an early red card to the
Australians and was held to a 1-1 draw.

The Germans remained optimistic despite an unconvincing
display against Serbia. Coach Joachim Loew and captain Philipp
Lahm have both said Germany will advance "100 percent."

"We know our qualities and have no doubt that we`ll make
it," striker Cacau said Monday.

The Brazil-born Cacau is likely to start up front, as
Miroslav Klose is suspended after being sent off with two
yellow cards against Serbia.

"I can see that my teammates have the confidence that
we`ll win," Cacau said.

Central defender Arne Friedrich also exuded confidence.

"We all believe we will make it, from coach Loew down.
The loss to Serbia was a blow but we still believe we`ll go
through," Friedrich said.

"We are in the kind of situation when we have to prove
ourselves and if we get rid of mistakes we made against
Serbia, we`ll be fine. They have good forwards but if we put
pressure on them we`ll cause them to make mistakes."

Germany has been in similar situations before -- two
years ago it needed to beat host Austria in the final group
match to advance at the European Championship and it did, then
went all the way to the final.

But the winning goal against Austria came from captain
Michael Ballack, who was forced out of this World Cup by an
ankle injury, contributing to Germany having the second
youngest team in World Cup history.

Kevin-Prince Boateng, the man whose tackle in the English
F.A. Cup final took Ballack out of the World Cup, will be on
the opposite side tomorrow.

Boateng was born in Berlin and played for Germany`s
junior teams before switching allegiance to the land of his
father. His half brother Jerome is a Germany defender.

According to Jerome, the two have not had contact since
the start of the World Cup, after Kevin-Prince had complained
that the hostile reaction in Germany to his foul on Ballack
had racist elements.

"It was stupid that something like that became public ...
but I wish him the best and I will shake his hand before the
match," said Jerome, who is unlikely to start.

Ghana has a Serbian coach, Milan Rajevac, who will have
central defender and captain John Mensah back after a
hamstring injury ruled him out of the match against Australia.
Mensah`s usual central defensive partner, Isaac Vorsah,
remains in doubt.

Like Germany, Ghana is at the World Cup without its
injured regular captain, Michael Essien _ Ballack`s Chelsea
teammate.

"I don`t think there is pressure on us," Mensah said.
"They will probably have more pressure because they are the
favorites.”

"We all know Germany has a good team, but we believe we
have a good team as well. We have to keep things tight, stay
compact and I`m sure we can win the match."

Defender Hans Adu Sarpei, who has played his entire
career in Germany and is now at Bayer Leverkusen, believes
Ghana can exploit weaknesses in Germany`s defense, although
Ghana has yet to score from open play in two games, with both
its goals coming from penalties.

"This is a big game. This situation of win or die makes
it much bigger. Myself, Kevin-Prince Boateng and the rest of
the team must be calm and go into the game with our minds and
not emotions so we don`t get red cards," Sarpei said.

Bureau Report

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