The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offsides (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to tips@Deadspin.com. Today: Ghana!
And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.)
• 1. Hearts Of Oak. Ghana's capital city of Accra is home to the best named soccer club in the world, the uber-cool named "Hearts of Oak." Ghana, by the way, which was former from a merger of Britain's Gold Coast and British Togoland, was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).
• 2. Purple Reign. Prince plays soccer. Prince Tagoe, that is, the 19-year-old striker who has scored 70 goals during the past three seasons. Tagoe played for Ghanaian second division club Midtjylland and Hearts of Oak, prior to moving on to Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad in January. He made his Ghana debut in a friendly against Tunisia on January 15, and appeared twice at the CAF African Nations Cup, coming on as a late substitute against Senegal and then playing the first 45 minutes of the 2-1 defeat by Zimbabwe.
• 3. Oh Ghana, What Could Have Been. Ghana, the United States' third and final opponent in the first round, is pretty good. But just imagine what their team might have been like had some of these guys played for their native national team instead of sporting another country's colors: Gerald Asamoah (Germany, World Cup 2002); George Boateng of Middlesbrough (cap-tied to Holland); Marcel Desailly (France, with whom he won World Cup '98); and one Mr. (or is it still Master at this age?) Freddy Adu. — (thanks to Tim Bresnahan).
• 4. They Are Explosive. Ghana midfielder Sulley Ali Muntari, possibly their best player, helped carry Udinese to the 2005 Champions League. One of his teammates there was Al-Saadi Qadhafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).