Michael Essien, the rock of Ghana’s midfield will not make it to South Africa.
He has been unable to recover sufficiently from a tear to his medial collateral ligament sustained in January while training for the Africa Cup of Nations.
How big will his loss be? He is an undoubted star but there are positive signs that he may not be indispensable. In this year’s ACN both Essien and Sulley Muntari were unavailable. The former because of his knee injury, the latter dropped for disciplinary issues.
In their absence a trio of 20 year old midfielders, Kwadwo Asamoah, André Ayew, and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu stepped up admirably to guide them to the ACN finals, losing narrowly to Egypt, 1-0.
Chelsea were also able to win the Premiership without Essien’s presence mainly because of the steady influence of John Obi Mikel in the holding role and Frank Lampard coming alive in the second half of the season.
Much will depend on Sulley Muntari who has had a long standing contentious relationship with the Ghana national team over disciplinary issues. He was dropped by Milan Rajovac for the ACN but was reinstated in the national squad after he apologized.
Muntari is one player who can match Essien in the spectacular shot department plus he brings a tough tackling presence to the midfield.
Essien is a tough loss but Ghana has shown that it can weather his absence. So which Chelsea midfielder will be missed more in the Group D encounter between Ghana and Germany? Essien or Michael Ballack? Another interesting sub plot in a match already full of them.