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Africa’s Lone Warrior

24 June 2006 at 12:09 | 387 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard Sports Analyst and London Bureau Chief.

High flyer Ghana has put Africa on the map by being the only country among the five African representatives to sail through to the last sixteen of the
World Cup. Ghana’s next opponent is defending champions Brazil. That is an encounter that will surely be an uphill task for the Africans. No kidding.

The Black Stars reached the elite stage by trouncing the United States 2-1 on Thursday June 22. Ghana’s Haminu Draman fired the opener in to the far corner of the net beating the US goalkeeper Kasey Keller who plays for
English club Tottenham Hotspurs. But the Americans equalised from DaMarcus Beasley’s cross which Clint Dempsey volleyed home past Ghana’s keeper Richard Kingston in the 43rd minute.

Two minutes into injury time in the first half, a controversial penalty for Ghana was awarded by the German referee Markus Merk following an air
collision between US centre-back Oguchi Onyewu and Ghana’s Razak Pimpong.

Black Stars skipper Stephen Appiah netted the vital penalty which turned out to be the winner.

Ghana was joined by Italy who topped Group E to progress to the second round. The Italians beat Czech Republic 2-0, goals scored by Marco Materazzi and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi. Italy will now face the Socceroos of
Australia in the second round on Monday June 26 in Kaiserslautern.

The Black Stars will clash with favourite the Samba boys of Brazil on Tuesday June 27 in the German city of Dortmund. But Ghana who have been the
underdogs in Group E all along, are now determined to prove the skeptics wrong against Brazil.

Ghana’s manager Ratomir Dujkovic said: “They are
champions and the best team in the world, it will be an honour to play them.
But the Black Stars team have the capacity to beat Brazil.”

Ghana will definitely miss the services of Chelsea’s 24 million midfielder
Michael Essien, 23, who was mortified when he received his second booking in
the tournament which makes him ineligible to face Brazil in Ghana’s finest
moment in football. The good news for Ghana is that striker Gyan Asamoah and
midfield strong man Sulley Muntari will be available after missing the USA match.

Africa’s other four representatives are on their way home. Togo lost to
France 0-2 on Friday June 23, goals scored by Patrick Veira and Thierry
Henry. Les Bleus of France will now face Spain in the second round on Tuesday
June 27 in Hanover. Tunisia also lost to Ukraine 0-1 the same day. Ivory
Coast got their first points after they beat Serbia & Montenegro 3-2.

Angola drew 1-1 with Iran. But the good news is that Angola’s scorer Flavio
won a house for getting Angola’s first goal at a World Cup. The Angolan
striker was given the keys to a 100,000 house by oil tycoon Elias Chimuco who is based in Angola.

In other second round fixtures, Germany will meet Sweden on Saturday June 24
in Munich; Argentina will face Mexico on Saturday June 24 in Leipzig;
England will slug it out with Ecuador on Sunday June 25 in Stuttgart;
Portugal will battle with Holland on Sunday June 25 in Nuremburg;
Switzerland versus Ukraine on Monday June 26 in Cologne.

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