Ghana and Serbia kick off their World Cup campaigns with the Group D opener in Pretoria on Sunday.
In what is one of the toughest groups in the competition, with Germany and Australia making up the rest of the pool, both sides will understand the importance of getting off to a winning start at the Loftus Versefeld Stadium.
Ghana are coached by Serbian boss Milovan Rajevic, but he insists there will be no divided loyalties on Sunday.
“The first game is simply a match for results. Yes, I come from Serbia but that would have nothing to do with Ghana’s play against them in Pretoria,” Rajevac told www.ghanafa.org.
“No heart, mind, nothing!” he said with a smile.
“It’s a match which is important for us. The tension drops after the opening game but a good result from the game with Serbia will give us much confidence for the other matches.
“We clearly know what we have to do and that’s how we would approach the game.”
Ghana lost their most influential player prior to the finals when Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury. His absence is a huge blow to Rajevac, although the team, without Essien, was still strong enough to reach the final of the African Cup of Nations in January.
Serbia have been might as this World Cup’s dark horses, although their pre-tournament form hardly inspires confidence after they stuttered through their warm-up matches. A 1-0 defeat to New Zealand was the nadir, but they equally unimpressive when drawing against Poland and beating Cameroon 4-3.
Despite their recent poor form, defender Aleksandar Lukovic believes Serbia’s qualifying record should give them plenty of confidence.
”The performances that we gave in qualifying gives us the right to think so,” the 27-year-old said on www.glas-javnosti.rs.
”We have individuals who play at big European clubs but the results in qualifying we achieved as a group, which is more important than any individual, and that is our strength.”
Inter star Sulley Muntari has handed Ghana a boost after recovering from a thigh problem which forced him to miss his side’s final warm-up game.
Serbia expect Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic to be fit after a stomach bug ruled him out of the recent friendlies against Poland and Cameroon.
Ghana (probable): Kingson, Inkoom, John Mensah, Vorsah, Pantsil; D. Boateng, K. P. Boateng, Appiah, Muntari; A. Gyan, Tagoe
Serbia (probable): Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Vidic, Lukovic, Obradovic; Krasic, Stankovic, Milijas, Jovanovic; Zigic, Pantelic