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Black Stars' potential moment of history

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Piers Edwards | 08:54 UK time, Friday, 2 July 2010

For many years, Ghana had the proudest record in African football and their fans may try to reclaim that status should the Black Stars soar over the brink of history in Soccer City tonight.

Their path to Africa's first semi-finals is blocked by the over-achieving Uruguayans - a nation of four million people - who have won two World Cups and conceded just one goal in South Africa.

Having become the third African quarter-finalists after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002, the Black Stars are relishing the prospect of further history - as anyone who's seen their joyful singing on Thursday will attest.

"We're ready to live the ultimate dream," says youngster Samuel Inkoom.

"I don't think Uruguay will be easy but we are capable of winning."

The Black Stars' pioneering past suggests they have every chance. The first team to win the Africa Cup of Nations four times, the west Africans were the continent's inaugural Olympic medallists - taking bronze in 1992 - and have also lifted Fifa's U-17 World Cup trophy twice.

But senior success at global level was absent until a new broom at the Ghanaian FA insisted on using accurate ages in youth tournaments.

"We'd been winning at junior level but the success never translated to the seniors - because players who were supposedly 22 or 23 were already past their prime," says GFA chairman Kwesi Nyantakyi, appointed in 2005, the year before Ghana reached its first World Cup .

The fruits appeared as the Black Satellites became Africa's first Fifa U-20 World Cup champions last October, seeing off Brazil in a final staged on continental soil, in Egypt.

Five members of that squad are in the youngest squad at the World Cup , with 15 players aged 24 and under.

Dede Ayew, Jonathan Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah have all taken to South Africa's pitches but defender Mensah and left-winger Ayew are suspended - and the in-form son of Ghana great Abedi 'Pele', Ayew, will be missed.

Making a timely return from injury is Hoffenheim centre-back Isaac Vorsah, who proved himself at this year's Nations Cup in Angola, where Serb coach Milovan Rajevac displayed his tactical prowess by leading an injury-ravaged side to the final.
ghana_595.jpgAsamoah Gyan is chasing Roger Milla's African World Cup goals record
Youngsters like Vorsah, 22, Inkoom, 20, and Kojo Asamoah, 21, grabbed a vital taste of senior competition with John Mensah, John Paintsil, Stephen Appiah, Laryea Kingson and Michael Essien all out - and the youths ground out incredibly mature wins.

Another notable aspect about Angola was Rajevac's iron discipline. Ghanaians were stunned when Sulley Muntari was left out of the Nations Cup squad for displaying a lack of that discipline, for this was a land where stars had often been begged to play despite previous indiscretions.

And history nearly repeated itself in South Africa when the 56-year-old wanted to banish the Inter player, who was dropped to the bench once more after he spoke out against the coach's tactics in the dressing room after the draw with Australia.

After the Ghana Football Association (GFA) failed to dissuade Rajevac, Stephen Appiah - a leader credited with bringing great unity to the squad - succeeded and the Serb showed his pragmatic qualities when bringing Muntari on against the USA.

Potential disaster had been averted and a man with attitude, but Champions League, Serie A and FA Cup winners' medals as well, may now start in Ayew's absence.

Screening the back four in a 4-1-4-1 formation, the diminutive Anthony Annan is playing so well you almost forget Michael Essien's injury and his positioning will be critical to Ghana's chances of silencing the attacking triumvirate of Edison Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan.

In total contrast, Asamoah Gyan makes leading the line single-handedly look easy and is a goal shy of Roger Milla's African World Cup record of five - a far contrast from 2008 when the the-then profligate striker nearly quit the Black Stars after being issued with death threats, until dissuaded by his team-mates.

"We are united," says the 25-year-old. "I always say football is not about fighting, football is fun. We just play with happiness. If you have problems, it is very difficult for you to play."

The Rennes man is in great form - having hit three at both the Nations Cup and World Cup - but midfielder Asamoah, the Udinese youngster who emerged in Muntari's absence in Angola, needs to come alive, while fans are also anxious about Kevin-Prince Boateng's fitness.

All, however, will be roared on by most of Soccer City's 80,000 fans, as well as an entire continent, who will be willing the Black Stars to make Africa proud.

"Whether we win or lose, Ghanaian football has already won," says Abedi Pele. "This has been a collective effort but credit must go to our government for vital funding and to the GFA."

The latter's policies - focusing on youth identification and development, scouring coaches with diligent planning, and paying bonuses on time - are exemplary but will a quarter-final or semi-final spot be the prize?

Or can the Black Stars shock the world and create even greater history?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Ghana will beat uruguay today.
    we believe.
    yes we can!!!
    come on black stars!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have just watched the video of Ghana's players partying prior to their game with Uruguay..What spirit! Amazing!

    They play good, fast, attractive AND technical football. Youngest squad at the World Cup as well.. Regardless of the result, they are winners..

    I wonder what their combined earnings are?? Terry and the rest of the over-paid mob take note. Playing for England are you?? More like playing for Bentley, Porsche, Jacob the Jeweller, Louis Vuitton, Armani, fake georgian mansions, b**b jobs, hair extensions, shake and bake tans etc..

    When I watch teams such as Ghana, Japan, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia et al, I remember why I love football..

    Good luck to the Black Stars. You have done Africa proud.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm very happy a lot of people are writing Ghana off. But, as usual, we shall spring surprise!!!! Go Ghana, Go Africa!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I would love to see Ghana go through, but what has the England squad got to do with it? Are they the only football players in the World with high earnings?

    Good Luck Ghana!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    These Black Stars have brought pride to Ghana and help restore the dignity of African Football- a feat the prima-donnas in the Nigerian and Cameroonian squad could not display. This team have shown vigour, quality and eagerness to achieve great heights while not holding to hostage the aspirations of their country and fans. Others elsewhere in the continent feel like the owe us a favour by playing in our colours.

    I say bravo to these young Black Stars, win or lose, you have left an indelible mark on African football!

  • Comment number 6.

    Lets be honest Ghana are not a top eight team. That they are in a position to reach the semis is more on the luck of the draw then anything else.

    They were even lucky to beat Serbia and lucky to draw against Oz. Uruguay will be a team too far i feel.

  • Comment number 7.

    @west london blues.

    who is a top 8 team?
    is it england,france or italy?
    it is this same arrogance and rubbish attitude that sent some so-called big teams out early?
    where is the luck?
    germany struggled to beat ghana 1-0 but gleefully dispatched england 4-1. yet u claim ghana are not good enuf. this is pathetic.
    watch us beat uruguay and get to the semis.
    looser!!!

  • Comment number 8.


    I wish Ghana all the best today. They have nothing to lose as they have already achieved the impossible. Experienced countries like Italy, France, England and others have gone home very early and Ghana is still there. We are very proud of you as our flag bearers for our African Team.

    The days of rivalry of Yeboha and Abide Pele is already gone and the current squad is really playing as a team, rather than disjointed individuals. Hopefully other African teams will learn from Ghanaian experience. That is the recipe for their success. Bravo Ghanaian players. Go for the CUP! You deserve it!

  • Comment number 9.

    Well Ghana might not be one of the best teams in the world, but you must be aware that big names do not play football. Let anyone who think Ghana qualify because of luck then am sorry for them.Well, may be i will say England was not fortunate or let say lucky enough.
    Ghana is going all out against Uruguay. Ghana will win 2:0.
    GO Ghana and make Africa proud.
    The Black Stars of our Beloved Africa. Go Ghan........a.

  • Comment number 10.

    The mental strength and confidence of this ghanaian team is pleasantly unbelievable. They work together as a team and fight till the end. i have heard a lot of football analysts mentioning forlan and suarez as the guys who can cause problems for ghana. However, watching the games i see Cavani causing most problems in midfield. I think the way forward for ghana is to place someone on Cavani.

  • Comment number 11.

    West London Blues, keep singing the blues and quit watching football. Also stop using a vuvuzela in accompaniment because the note is B flat. Is that why you are so flatly wrong?

  • Comment number 12.

    I think Ghana are a very good side, West London Blues- they're producing some very exciting youngsters and have some underrated players.

  • Comment number 13.

    West London Blues - If all you needed to play in the quarter finals was to be a top eight team then why bother inviting 24 other teams to the world cup?
    By your reasoning, why not play the top two teams of the world every four years for a world cup final. I am sure you are already salivating at the prospect.

    Give credit where it is due. Ghana have qualified and deserve, like the 7 other teams, to play at this stage. There is no luck involved. England was supposed to have had the 'luck of the draw' in the group stages - look where it got us!!!

    The team that takes their chances in front of goal always wins. May it be Ghana this evening!

  • Comment number 14.

    Two good teams but fancy Uruguay to go through because they have IMO on paper a better forward line and a better defence. Ghana are strong but as the Serbs showed they can be cut open too easily at times.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ghana is not an underdog.Ghana plays good football than Uruguay.Ghana wil beat them by 3 gooals to nil.The likes of Kwadwo Asamoah(Udinese),Kevin Boateng(Portsmouth),John Paintsil(Fulham),John Mensah(Sunderland),Sulley Muntari(InterMilan),Asamoah Gyan(Stade Rennes),Isaac Vorsah(Hoffenheim) etc will whitewash the Uruaguays to teach the world that the Soccer powerhouse -Ghana has arrived.Let me tell everyone in the face that Ghana is wining this Worldcup.You might laugh over this but it will come to pass.This is no joke.After Urugauay,it will be Brazil then it will be Germany's turn to face the wrath of the Africans.Ghana ---------- the Greatest of them all.By tommorow,all you doubters will eat humble meat pie.

  • Comment number 16.

    i never taught in my wildest dream i would live the day ghana would be playing for a chance to be in the semifinals in the world cup,win or loose i am immensely proud of my team,and u guys cant even imagine what this means to people back home,for a couple of weeks people forget all their struggles and problems

  • Comment number 17.

    I am expecting Anthony Annan to keep an eye on Forlan anytime he drops into the midfield. I expect Ghana to make a better fight of this match and even win if Annan does this job well.

    Go Ghana, Go Black Stars, the whole of Ghana and the whole of Africa is behind you.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well done to Ghana for what they have done so far at the world cup. A great achievement considering the players that have been missing through injury.

    Its seem like their youth set up is really coming into effect now. The youngsters have come in and took on the world and so far, are winning!!

    Another example of youth showing no fear.

    Another thing that is pleasing to see is how Africa as a continent gets behind its nations even though the country they may support has been knocked out or didnt even qualify.

    Ive ready so many comments on these blogs from people from various different countrys, a Ghanian hoping South Africa go through, a Nigerian wanting Camaroon to do well and an Angolan supporting South Africa are just afew examples.

    So many comments finish with Go Ghana, Go Africa. Or Go Camaroon Go Africa!!
    Great people. Great nations and a Great continent!! And Great hosts!

    Dont think you'll ever read a Frenchman saying 'go Spain, go europe'
    Or a Brazilian 'go Argentina, go south america'.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good luck to Ghana..for an African team to make the semi-final's on African soil in only their second ever finals tournament will be truely fantastic if it happens.

    The comment in the blog I found most interesting/amusing though was by GFA chairman Kwesi Nyantakyi: "We'd been winning at junior level but the success never translated to the seniors - because players who were supposedly 22 or 23 were already past their prime," - glad they sorted that out before Fifa noticed???

  • Comment number 20.

    Its a sprightly team that enjoys its game. They could overturn the fighting Uruguayans if they do no allow the African angle onus to burden them and play with merry abandon.

  • Comment number 21.

    RE Parsimonious's comments: You are totally right! Terry et all need to take a long hard look at themselves.!

  • Comment number 22.

    West London Blues, Ghana are a good team and fully deserve their place in the last 8. I think most non-partisan fans would agree that they have done far better than supposedly top 8 teams like France, Italy and England who simply weren't good enough.
    By the way getting out of a group consisting of Germany, Serbia and Oz was no easy feat, probably would have proved too hard for us.
    I think Uruguay will win today but they've still done fantastically well and are a team for the future (again, unlike several of your beloved 'top 8' teams).

  • Comment number 23.


    The Black Stars have really played well. Their strength lies in scoring early and then taking charge of the proceedings till the long whistle. Ghana is a well organized team that has shown stamina, hunger and a big desire to continue in the mega event. Reaching the last eight is a huge achievement. From then on there are no favourites any more. If there are, then Ghana is also one of them. Best wishes to the team and their fans worldwide.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 24.

    Don't let Blatter know that the Ghana government is interfering with football by providing vital funding !!!

    Good luck for tonight.

  • Comment number 25.

    Ghana is ready to make history! The UK is willing you on, Black Stars!

  • Comment number 26.

    Go Black Stars go.We are so proud of you boys.Bitter comments from others should not distract our Black Stars.Win and make us prouder.I'm proud to be Ghanaian

  • Comment number 27.

    I hope Ghanians will keep Africa live in the FIFA world cup 2010 in RSA even though Uruguayans are not that easy to be defeated. We are with the black stars and Accra. I am from Somalia where people get less chance even to watch the world cup due to insecurity but am with my Ghanian brothers and sisters.

  • Comment number 28.

    Very good blog, Piers. Good luck to both Uruguay and the Black Stars tonight. Both teams are a credit to their nations, unlike the over-hyped, under-talented losers who turned out for Ingerlund.

  • Comment number 29.

    I really hope Ghana make history tonight having watched the amount of spirit and passion the players have in the "I just grabbed my phone and filmed" clip. Absolutely fantastic unlike the ghostly figures of Cappelo's 'this will be our year' group of so-called players. Anyone for darts?

    I used the word 'hope' because the technically superior Uruguayans are looking formidable opponents and will no doubt prove to be a difficult task albeit the 'whole of Africa' support. If the Black Stars can neutralise Diego & Suarez they might just have a chance.

    Sing sing Africa!..

  • Comment number 30.

    Go! GHANA GO!

  • Comment number 31.

    the hour has come.
    for Ghana to take her place among the world football greats.
    come on black stars!
    come on Ghana!!
    come on Africa!!!
    come on Asamoah Gyan!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    go ghana! the whole of africa is banking on you..all us kenyans have our faces painted in those green,red n yellow colours! show the world true african football..on african soil!

  • Comment number 33.

    God will punish luis suarez.
    he shall never become a great player.
    fool

  • Comment number 34.

    Some people wrote Ghana off before the game even started. If Westlondon blues watched the game yesterday, hope she/he saw Ghana was the better of the 2 teams. They got there by hard work, which can't be said about a team we all know so well and is considered a top 8 team. Or is it? No one can say for sure now.
    give credit where it is due. No sour grapes. Westlondonblues

  • Comment number 35.

    go ghana! make africa the best in the world.
    come on black stars!
    come on Ghana!!
    come on Africa!!!

    i believe ghana will the best football in africa and in the world

 

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