Ghana's golden chance to leave Germany behind

Ghana v Australia: Today, 3pm, Rustenburg, BBC1

The hope expressed by Australia's Dutch coach Pim Verbeek to "do better than last time" at the World Cup was already looking optimistic when the draw was made and has taken on a note of Panglossian optimism given the way Group D is panning out.

The Socceroos were quickly brought back to earth by a 4-0 defeat to Germany in their opening game, when Tim Cahill was sent off, and following Serbia's win yesterday they are the only side without a point.

Victory against Ghana in Rustenburg this afternoon is therefore essential but will be difficult to achieve. Cahill, although relieved to be suspended for only one game, will be missing and so will the Blackburn midfielder Vince Grella, who is injured and will have to wait for his 50th international cap. Australia appear particularly short in attack, Cahill having had to take the one striker's role against the Germans, which did not suit him.

There will almost certainly be changes too in defence, where Scott Chipperfield admits his place in jeopardy. He said of the Germany game: "Sometimes I had two or three players coming at me. It made me look bad but there are times when there is not much you can do." Fellow defenders almost certainly shared the feeling, although Lucas Neill, the right-back and captain, is attempting to keep spirits up with a promise of an improved performance.

Doing better than 2006, however, looks highly unlikely. On that occasion Neill's team came second in their group, ahead of Croatia and Japan and were unlucky to lose in the first knockout round to Italy, who were awarded a dubious penalty in the final minute. The squad is much the same this time, but four years older and lacking Mark Viduka's scoring potential. Harry Kewell, now of Galatasaray, is still around, and still facing accusations of lacking commitment from the media, one of whose (absent) members he wanted to confront at his press conference this week.

What to watch out for: More shocks?

Having been beaten so badly last Sunday, the Australians needed Serbia and Ghana to lose to Germany as well, only to watch the Serbs pull off a surprise yesterday before they went out to train in the Royal Bafokeng stadium.

Ghana's overall prospects were hampered by the injury to Chelsea's Michael Essien, their midfield driving force and their captain John Mensah of Sunderland was injured in training last night. England will be watching events in this group with interest but after yesterday's result anything could happen; except, almost certainly, Australia winning it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'