Natal: Ghana will kick off their World Cup campaign in Natal tipped to beat the United States today, but their bid for a coveted semi-final place could prove a much harder task.

Ghana eliminated the USA in the knockout round four years ago to make it to the quarter-finals 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.

Aiming higher
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.

Appiah'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.