22 June 2006

Africa: Ghana Qualifies For The Second Round of The FIFA World Cup

Nuremberg —

Like Senegal in 2002, Ghana has qualified for the second round in its first ever World Cup participation.

Much was expected of Cote d'Ivoire who reached the finals of the African Cup of Nations held earlier this year. The Elephants certainly exited with their heads high by defeating Serbia-Montenegro, and even though Tunisia in still in the race, Ghana is the first team that carried the African banner high up.

The Black Stars had already offered a foretaste of its abilities earlier by overpowering a much-feared Czech Republic which had been described as a great team when the tournament began. This first African victory invigorated the Black Stars, enabling them to move ahead as the competition rolled on. Now Michael Essien and his team have indeed turned their coach's and indeed the continent's dream into reality.

Better than Senegal

Unlike Senegal which moved on to the next round with only 5 points, the Black Stars earned 6 points to secure themselves a spot in the second round. What really sets Ghana apart is the fact that they did come a long way, starting off with a 0-2 loss to Italy.

But they were able to catch up and not only did they beat the Czechs, but they did so with a 2-0 score. From then on, Stephen Appiah and his team became aware of their true potential, and went on to defeat the United States, which had tied with Italy.

Former Black Stars captain Anthony Baffoe, now the team's PR manager, could hardly retain his joy. "We proudly represented Africa just like Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal did before us. I said we're afraid of no one, and believe me, the best is yet to come."

Ghana has thus made history by succeeding in moving to the next round after losing the first game on its first World Cup participation.

Brazil is next

The Ghanaian players must put the euphoria generated by their qualification behind them and concentrate on fully recovering and preparing adequately for their next opponents, Brazil.

Essien received two yellow cards and will miss the second round game, but the Ghanaians will have Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari back. But given that Ghana, for now, appears capable of everything, Africa is keeping its fingers crossed for what will surely be one of the highlights of this World Cup.

Translated and adapted by Francois Gouahinga and Gaddiel Baah


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