ACCRA, Ghana - Ghana picked Michael Essien and Kevin-Prince Boateng in a preliminary 26-man World Cup squad on Monday. Arizona Coyotes Store . The group will be trimmed to a final 23-man squad after a friendly game against the Netherlands on May 31, the Ghana Football Association said. AC Milans Essien and Schalkes Boateng were named after returning to international football last year. They had both asked for time away from the national team in the years after the last World Cup. Ghana captain and striker Asamoah Gyan and midfielder Sulley Muntari were also included and are set to play in their third consecutive World Cups. Ghana was the best-performing African team at the 2010 tournament, reaching the quarterfinals and just missing out on the semifinals after a penalty shootout loss to Uruguay in South Africa. Ghana will play the United States, Germany and Portugal in Group G in Brazil, and opens its campaign against the U.S. in Natal on June 16. Ghana beat the U.S. in the second round of the last World Cup. Coach Kwesi Appiah didnt reveal what his target was for the team that nearly became the first African nation into the last four of a World Cup four years ago. "Once the players are all fit we hope to deliver," Appiah said. "Every coach has a target and l believe in my players and the national team, but l cannot tell where we will get to. The only thing l can say is we will not disgrace Ghanaians." Essien missed the 2010 World Cup through injury and is likely facing his last chance to play at the showpiece in Brazil. Boateng stepped down from national team duties in 2011 but was recalled to Ghanas squad toward the end of the World Cup qualifying campaign late last year. Ghana will play in its third straight World Cup in Brazil. Appiah also picked Marseilles Andre Ayew, Juventus Kwadwo Asamoah and young attacking midfielder Wakaso Mubarak. Defender Jeffrey Schlupp, who plays for Englands Leicester City, was the biggest surprise in the initial squad. The GFA announced Monday that Ghana would play the Netherlands in Rotterdam on May 31 and South Korea in Miami on June 9 in its final World Cup warm-ups before facing Jurgen Klinsmanns U.S. team in Brazil. ___ Provisional squad: Goalkeepers: Adam Kwarasey, Fatawu Dauda, Stephen Adams. Defenders: Samuel Inkoom, Daniel Opare, Harrison Afful, Jeffrey Schlupp, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Jerry Akaminko, Rashid Sumaila. Midfielders: Michael Essien, Rabiu Mohammed, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Kwadwo Asamoah, Sulley Muntari, Albert Adomah, Wakaso Mubarak, Christian Atsu, David Accam, Andre Ayew, Afriyie Acquah. Forwards: Asamoah Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Abdul Majeed Waris, Jordan Ayew. Nick Schmaltz Jersey.com) - A pair of programs shooting for their 10th win of the season get together at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, as the NC State Wolfpack tangle with 22nd-ranked West Virginia during the challenge round of the Gotham Classic. Barrett Hayton Jersey . Wayne and Cindy Tuck of Ilderton, Ont., closed out round-robin play earlier in the day with a 7-3 win over Finland but needed a win over Austria to reach the final eight.TORONTO - The Toronto Raptors will try to shake off a pair of losses tonight when they host the struggling Detroit Pistons. Toronto has dropped games to Indiana and Miami since a five-game winning streak and closed out a three-game road trip at 1-2. In Tuesdays 86-79 loss at Indiana, DeMar DeRozan led the way with 28 points and Patrick Patterson added 20 for the Raptors, who shot 37 percent for the game and received 16 points from Kyle Lowry. "Down the stretch, you cant beat a team like that by trading baskets with them," said Patterson. "You have to get stops and we just couldnt do that." The 79 points were a season low for the Raptors, who managed just 80 in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 15. DeRozan has scored 20 or more points in six of his last seven games. Toronto will open a three-game homestand Wednesday versus Detroit, Brooklyn and MMilwaukee, and is 6-8 at Air Canada Centre. Keith Yandle Jersey. For their part, the Pistons are caught in a funk and will resume a three-game road trip tonight. Detroit has dropped five in a row and three straight on the road, including Tuesdays 89-85 setback at New York in the opener of the trek. Josh Smith led the Pistons with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Greg Monroe ended with 19 points and Andre Drummond added 12 and 17 rebounds. The Pistons fell to 8-9 on the road, shot 37.2 percent and made just 3-of-19 3-pointers. "It was a very good effort," said Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks. "(We) got down 17 and was able to fight back. We just didnt make any shots in the end to get over the hump. We played hard though." Detroit will close the trek Friday at Philadelphia. The Raptors and Pistons split four meetings last season. ' ' '
Essien and Kevin-Prince Boate
Essien and Kevin-Prince Boate