USA vs. Ghana: Ghana carries the hopes of a continent on its shoulders
Ghana's Black Stars are Africa's last remaining team in the World Cup. A win against the United States would take them through to the quarter-finals.
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Football remains a major part of Ghanaian life and the national team's performance in South Africa is partly due to sustained investment in youth development, says Ernest Koranteng, head of sport at Ghana's Joy FM. "Almost all the premier league clubs have youth teams. Ghanaian
football has improved so much thanks to the money spent on developing young players."
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The national youth team won last year's under-20 World Cup, beating Brazil in the final, and several players from that team are in the squad in South Africa.
"Ghana has also been consistent with its coach," adds Koranteng. Milovan Rajevac has been in charge since 2008 – four of the other five African teams at the World Cup have changed their coach in the last nine months. "The team knows each other very well and has played the same tactics for a long time. It is a lot easier for them to play together."
Danny Jordaan, the World Cup organizer, had spoken before the tournament about an "African six-pack," encouraging South African fans to get behind the other African teams once Bafana Bafana were knocked out.
Judging by the support for the Black Stars in Johannesburg – street hawkers are doing a brisk business in Ghana flags – they will not be lacking fans in Rustenburg. An editorial in South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, proclaimed that "We are all Black Stars", while the country's African National Congress congratulated the team for "representing the entire continent."
Not for the first time, Ghana will also aim to show the rest of Africa the way forward.
World Cup 101:
- World Cup 101: How does the tournament work?
- World Cup 101: Why is the World Cup such a big deal?
- World Cup 101: Why is the World Cup in South Africa?
- World Cup 101: Is South Africa really prepared to host the World Cup?
- World Cup 101: Who’s favored to win it all?