“Yes, We Can” was the response of jubilant soccer loving fans in the west African nation as Ghana beat the USA on Saturday evening to make it to the last eight of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Black Stars have become the third African side since the inception of the global football fiesta some eight decades ago to make it to the quarter finals. The last time an African country made it to the quarters was eight years ago. Cameroon got there in 1990 and Senegal replicated them in 2002.
Africa has remained moribund at the quarters and hopes were high that the first World Cup on African soil would bring a lot of blessings to the continent. However, all but one of the continent’s representatives have already kissed goodbye to the historic event.
The four-time African champions with the youngest squad have lifted the African flag high and continue to impress. They showed a lot of character, team work and harmony against the USA to go beyond the second stage.
Coach Milovan Rajevac paid heed to the public’s outcry to change his tactics as well as de-field striker Prince Tagoe, and the dividend has been rewarding to Ghana in particular and Africa in general.
The next headache for the Black Stars is Uruguay who are yet to concede defeat in this tournament. They are fast and fight to the end. It is going to be an herculean hurdle for the African icons. However, the Ghanaians have only lost against Germany.
For the first time in 13 international games Ghana scored more than a goal in a game. It seems they have found their goal scoring rhythm and the fans would be delighted to see more of that. To break the quarter finals jinx the team needs to play as a unit, close up the defense and create more chances in an open game before they could score. They would need to step up their game even after taking the lead.
Ghana became the first African side to lift the U-20 World Cup just under a year in Cairo and about six of those youngsters were paraded at the Nations Cup in January and came out as runners-up just when pundits had ruled them out. At the start of the World Cup the Black Stars were not named among Africa’s favorites but have sent their critics to eat humble pie.
Unfortunately, Ghana are going into the quarter-finals without two of their key young players, Dede Ayew and Jonathan Mensah, who have been elements of the prime force of Ghana.
But looking at the output of the Africans and the tactics employed by the Serbian coach it is possible for them to prove themselves a tough side against Uruguay. As the party goes deep into the night the question that would be going through the minds of soccer pundits would still remain as to whether Ghana would be able to break the Africa quarter-finals jinx.
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