Germany vs. Ghana: Black stars become first African team to advance

Ghana will carry the hopes of a continent into its second-round match against the US on Sunday. Despite losing in today's Germany vs. Ghana match, the Black Stars advanced on goal differential.

Ina Fassbender/Reuters
Germany's Mesut Ozil (8) shoots to score a goal past Ghana's goalkeeper Richard Kingson during their 2010 World Cup Group D soccer match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on June 23.

Ghana started this match much the way they began the other two games of this World Cup: by looking like one of the most creative, dangerous, attractive teams at the tournament.

They took the game to the Germans.

Ghana’s Black Stars – wearing the all-white strip that Germany normally wears – sliced through the German defense pounding the goal early.

IN PICTURES: Top 2010 World Cup controversies

The Germans – looking like a SWAT team in their new all-black uniforms – could not seem to get a handle on the slippery Ghanaian attack.

Even former German star (now an ESPN commentator) Jurgen Klinsmann admitted that his countrymen were outplayed. “Overall I think Ghana had the better chances,” he said, adding, “but you’ve got to put [the ball] in the goal.”

Indeed, that has been Ghana's Achilles Heel in this World Cup. Despite dominating opponents and creating chances other teams can only salivate over, they cannot seem to put the ball in the back of the net.

First, Asamoah Gyan, the hero of Ghana’s opening game against Serbia, missed a good chance in the 6th minute. Had he been more gentle with his first touch, he could have had a point-blank shot.

Five minutes later, Gyan found himself in the box again but made only a half-hearted effort that was blocked by a lunging German defender.

That streak continued for Ghana all game long, just as it did when the Black Stars pummeled Australia, but couldn't score more than one goal, despite having a one-man advantage for the majority of the game.

Is it a lack of patience on the attack? Is it nerves on the world's biggest stage? Or do Ghana's strikers lack the shark-like instinct it takes to score consistently?

Whatever it is, they'll have to figure it out if they want to beat an impressive US team on Sunday.

Otherwise they'll be punished by the US offensive trio of Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey the same way German striker Mesut Ozil punished them today with one of the World Cup's prettiest goals so far.

But that's days away. For now, Ghana can soak up the fact that it earned the right to be among the world's top 16 countries and that they are representing the continent of Africa in the first World Cup held on African soil.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 goals of the first week and 10 World Cup players to watch

World Cup 101:

What you think makes the World Cup special?

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.