Ghana will kick off its World Cup campaign in Natal tipped to beat the United States on Monday, but its bid for a coveted semifinal place could prove a much harder task.

Ghana eliminated the USA in the knockout round four years ago to make it to the quarterfinals before bowing out to eventual fourth-place finishers Uruguay.

In South Africa, Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, with Kwesi Appiah as assistant, steered the Black Stars into the last eight.

But they were cruelly denied a place in the last four when Asamoah Gyan failed to convert from the spot following a handball on the goal-line by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, with Uruguay going on to win the penalty shoot-out.

Four years on and the aim of Appiah, the first Ghanaian to coach the Black Stars at a World Cup, is to take the Africans a stage further.

But with Group G rivals Germany and Portugal widely expected to grab the top two qualifying places, a healthy dose of realism may be required.

Host of big namesAppiah’s side features a host of big names who ply their trade in Europe, from Juventus wingback Kwadwo Asamoah to AC Milan midfield pair Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, Schalke forward Kevin-Prince Boateng and striker Jordan Ayew, who plays for Marseille.

Ghana has also recently welcomed back striker Abdul Majeed Waris, who scored nine goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances for Valenciennes during a six-month loan spell from Russian side Spartak Moscow, after he returned from injury quicker than expected.

The United States, coached by former German great Jurgen Klinsmann, faces a tougher task to impress the critics.

Veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman watched Ghana in a recent 4-0 friendly win over South Korea, in which Ayew struck a hat-trick and where Majeed Waris picked up his knock, and was impressed: “They looked really good. They’re strong, fast...technically good.”

Appiah, who is known by his players as the ‘Silent Killer’ for his taciturn but no-nonsense manner, has a lot to live up to having injected fresh blood into a squad which includes 16 World Cup newcomers.

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