Facts & figures: Ghana

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Ghana: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: One

Best performance: Second round in 2006

Coach: Milan Rajevac was an unknown quantity when he took over as coach of the Black Stars, his appointment heavily criticised by Ghana's media. It has been his first coaching assignment outside of his native Serbia where the 55-year-old previously worked at Red Star Belgrade. Ghana are hoping he will deliver the same as compatriot Ratomir Dujkovic, who took Ghana into the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup finals in their debut appearance.

Key players:

Michael Essien (Chelsea) Age: 26. Midfielder.

Essien's brute strength and seemingly endless stamina have made him famous, mostly on the back of his performances with Chelsea. For Ghana he adds an extra dimension with his versatility, having been called on frequently to play in defence as Ghana have battled with an almost perpetual injury crisis.

Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan) Age: 25. Midfielder.

A crafty midfielder who once had trials at Manchester United and spent a season at Portsmouth, during which they won the FA Cup in 2008. Muntari was the subject of a controversy over his fasting earlier this year during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, when Inter coach Jose Mourinho said he was lacking fitness and energy and put him on the bench.

Asamoah Gyan (Stade Rennes) Age: 24. Striker.

Blighted by injury over the last two years, Gyan has finally been able to get some consistency in his game and been among the leading goal scorers in France's Ligue 1 this season.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 37

How they qualified: Ghana were the first side to qualify from the African preliminaries, securing top place in their group with two games to play. They had expected a tough test from Mali but in June won away in Bamako to nullify the threat of their west African rivals and from there on it was an easy coast to the finish line. Ghana lost their 100 percent record only after already securing qualification when they used experimental sides in their last two group matches.

Prospects: A confident showing in their debut outing at the last World Cup suggests Ghana will be one of the real African contenders. They are heavily reliant on Essien, Muntari and captain Stephen Appiah, and battle to score goals, but are a side that oozes with confidence.