THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

2 July ~ In the 80-year history of the World Cup, only 24 different nations have made it to the last four. None of the 57 countries in Africa has got that far. Cameroon came close in 1990. Senegal were a whisker away in 2002. But both failed. Now it is Ghana's time to try, with a quarter-final clash against Uruguay at Soccer City, Johannesburg. As has been mentioned repeatedly, Ghana carry the weight of an entire continent on their young shoulders. To an extent this could simply be considered empty romanticising. But in South Africa, several provinces have announced that their citizens should, from June 30, wear the national colours of Ghana as a gesture of solidarity.

The ruling ANC invited the Black Stars to a presentation, while Nelson Mandela has also extended a special invitation to the Ghana team for a private reception at his house in Cape Town. Milovan Rajevac's side can expect the backing of the entire host nation, alongside around one billion other Africans. Soccer City will be like home territory.

What effect the increased exposure, and with it pressure, will have on a young side remains to be seen. Ghana's whole ethos over the last year's success has been based on a low-key, team-over-stars mentality, so it will be interesting to see to what extent fancy dinner invites and back-slapping receptions affect their focus. Thankfully, the realisation of just how historically significant a win against Uruguay would be is not lost on the players.

"Now it's our turn," said Stephen Appiah, the most influential player in Ghana's dressing room. "We hope that we can better it by going to the semi-final. It would be a great achievement because one day I would like to talk to my kids and explain to them what happened in South Africa in 2010."

In terms of preparation, the suspect fitness of Asamoah Gyan and Kevin Prince Boateng provides cause for concern. Gyan has been Didier Drogba-incarnate is his leading of the line, and his superb control and finish against US displayed the type of ruthless play many thought beyond him.

Boateng, meanwhile, has been Ghana's wild card, a midfield revelation since making his international debut just one month ago. With Andre Ayew suspended, Boateng's presence is vital. How midfield shield Anthony Annan deals with Diego Forlan is also a key battle. Forlan loves to drop deep and shoot from range, and is highly effective at both.

No African side has ever won a World Cup knockout match without it going to extra time. It could be a long night. Jonathan Fadugba

Comments (4)
Comment by liamthebulgar 2010-07-02 21:29:17

And if I now (being Irish) express a wish that a European country wins it- I guess that makes me a racist? Why is it cool for Africans to support the idea of an African triumph, whereas if I urged everyone in Europe to get behind Holland / Germany / Spain I would (quite rightly) be accused of some kind of racist motivation.

Comment by Shoeshine Football 2010-07-03 02:02:24

"if I urged everyone in Europe to get behind Holland / Germany / Spain I would (quite rightly) be accused of some kind of racist motivation"

Huh? Really? You actually believe this?

Comment by gtheo 2010-07-03 14:34:50

There's nothing wrong with willing the perceived underdog to carry the flag for an entire continent. Ghana represented something more than the historical tensions and battles that have taken place on the field between European rivals. http://gregtheoharis.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/continental-shifts/

Comment by Dalef65 2010-07-04 14:22:15

As a UK Afro-Carribean Male,I would like to add my 2 pennies worth.

Firstly I do think liamthebulgar has some kind of a point,but I dont want to get into reasons why the PC-o-meter in our society swings so far in somewhat weird directions sometimes.......

Now to Ghana and African football;
Lack of coolness under pressure and so-called African flair are two qualities that seem to go hand in hand with the 3 African teams that have made it to WCQFs.
Nobody who saw Cameroon V Argentina in Italia 90 could say that they were cool under pressure,and then they had England on the ropes in the QF and gave away two silly penalties.Out you go.
Senegal failed to press home their advantage in 2002,and now we see Ghana v Uruguay of this year.
Despite the Uruguyan "gamesmanship" or whatever you want to call it,Ghana missed the spot kick when the pressure was on.
Is this accusation of an endemic lack of coolness under pressure simply a cliche?
Well yes in some ways it may be,but no more of a cliche than the(frankly tiresome)African Brotherhood thing that seems to have sprung up around this World Cup.Empty romanticising indeed....!
Africa is in no way shape or form an homogenous unit,and its people are as capable of internal strife,tensions,battles and indeed hatred as anyone else.
Finally is the author of this post trying to imply that Asamoah Gyan is Didier Drogba-like in his control and finishing ALL of the time ?The guy is a willing runner and works hard,but I cant make up my mind whether he is a good player who has some awful moments,or a limited player who has just had the five games of his life,due to high motivation and the circumstances surrounding the whole tournament.
In other words can Ghana build on this?

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