Muntari (left) and Boateng (right) have been sent home in disgrace from the World Cup in Brazil
As the group stages wind to a close, tomorrow offers us the chance to pause for breath and recall our favourite World cup moments so far. Barring England’s meek exit, and the pending punishment awaiting Luis Suarez, Brazil 2014 has been a roaring success, with unexpected heroes Joel Campbell of Costa Rica and Greece’s Georgios Samaras emerging to add extra colour to the Copacabana.
But while the Brazilians themselves are renowned for rhythm and dance, it is the synchronised steps of Ghanaians in celebration of Asamoah Gyan giving them the lead against Germany last Saturday that will be remembered as fondly as any seaside samba this summer.
The joyous moment was short-lived; Miroslav Klose levelled, equaling the all-time record for goals at World Cup finals, and with news today of Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng being sent home in disgrace, those who line up to face Portugal in the must-win match in Brasília later this afternoon will be forgiven for feeling they are dancing to a swan song at the Estádio Nacional.
Irrespective of his indiscretions, Muntari would have been unavailable for selection against the Portuguese, following two bookings in the Black Cats’ opening matches, but with reports emerging of the former Portsmouth midfielder’s row and subsequent slap of Moses Armah Parker, a member of the side’s Management Committee, manager James Kwesi Appiah has acted swiftly to send the 29-year-old home.
If USA were not already in the box seat for Group G qualification, three points better off with a superior goal difference, they most certainly are now, as both Muntari and Boateng, who joined his former AC Milan teammate on the flight back to Accra following a training ground bust-up with Appiah, are two senior squad members capable of individual brilliance.
Muntari, who is believed to have run around the team’s hotel holding a broken glass aloft, has shown his philanthropic side already this summer, spotted handing out money to poor children on the streets of Brazil, but the lesser lights of Christian Atsu, Andre Ayew and the lethal Gyan should not show equal charity to Ronaldo and company today (kick-off 5pm, BBC) when it is they who have made the bigger impact than their more illustrious but sullied comrades.