Ghana's Black Stars Bow Out In Style In World Cup : Show Me Your Cleats! - World Cup 2010 Blog After two periods of extra time and a penalty shootout, Uruguay won a nerve-racking quarterfinal match against Ghana. But NPR correspondent and Ghanaian Ofeibea Quist-Arcton says the Black Stars have done Africa proud.
NPR logo Ghana's Black Stars Bow Out In Style

Ghana's Black Stars Bow Out In Style

Ghana's John Mensah, center, is consoled by Ghana's Asamoah Gyan, left, after missing a penalty kick. Luca Bruno/AP hide caption

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Luca Bruno/AP

Ghana's John Mensah, center, is consoled by Ghana's Asamoah Gyan, left, after missing a penalty kick.

Luca Bruno/AP

Gentlemen, that was a tremendous game, one that will surely go down in the annals of World Cup and soccer history. You players were impressive and gutsy. I congratulate you.

The quarter-final encounter between Uruguay and Ghana at Soccer Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg — which went to a penalty kick shootout handing victory to the Uruguayans — was Shakespearean and titanic in its intensity, energy and skill.

So much appeared to rest on the shoulders of two men on a field of 22. I doff my hat to you, striker Asamoah Gyan of Ghana's Black Stars, and to you, Diego Forlan of Uruguay. You are truly formidable footballers and leaders on — and no doubt off — the pitch.

When midfielder Sulley Muntari scored for Ghana on the stroke of half time, the sweaty, packed restaurant I was in, watching with Black Stars' supporters, exploded in jubilant exhilaration. 

The South African vuvuzelas and Ghanaian drums were going like the clappers. Everyone was dancing and cheering and waving red, gold and green Ghana flags, scarves, caps — with that distinctive black star — in delight.

There were groans when Uruguay's Forlan equalized with a free kick 10 minutes into the second half.

Ooooh, but — like Richard Nketsia, a Ghanaian supporter I met as we left the restaurant venue where we watched the came in Yeoville, his voice hoarse with emotion — I am now heartsore, heartsore, heartsore.

Africa's last hope at this African World Cup has been dashed. And yet it was so close. But it was done with style, with determination and with superb soccer. 

Gosh, you players. You team players. What a show. What a performance.  What a joy to watch.

Ba-Ghana Ba-Ghana — you didn't win this one but, believe me, you have more than put Ghanaian and African soccer on the world sports map. 

Ayekoo, as we say in Ghana. Job well done. You have done all of Africa proud.

You Black Stars demonstrated your mettle, your classy and able soccer and almost made it to the semi-finals. We thank you for that.

You Uruguayans: Chale, as we say in Ghana. I'm a Ghanaian and you beat my team, Africa's only remaining team in this championship, but I wish you well for the rest of this World Cup in South Africa. You deserve to do well against the Netherlands in the semi-finals next week. "Arriba los Celestes!"

You suddenly silenced our drums which were being played loudly and enthusiastically, to encourage the Black Stars' players 10 miles away in Soccer City. 

There was a moment of total silence — stunned silence — and I was silent too, my microphone recording silence when it became clear that Uruguay had won.

Black Stars — we share your emotion and your pain and we saw the tears.  Kose, kose, kose. Sorry-o. But you tried and everyone around the world witnessed your efforts. Ghana and Africa are the losers, but fine soccer is the winner.

So, am I disappointed? Sure, but I'm not a sore loser. I'm really proud to be Ghanaian and to be African and I thank you, South Africans, for that — for hosting this first World Cup on the continent and for making all visitors to your wonderful country most welcome.

Your support for the Black Stars was tuneful — what sweet, sweet singing — colorful, enthusiastic and heartfelt and we Ghanaians thank you for that.

And now, as African hosts with a reputation for hospitality, the game must go on and we — the Africans — will be cheering for the best team(s) to go forward, to score and to play beautiful, breathtaking soccer.

Over and out. 

P.S. Handballs should be banned in soccer. 'nuff said.

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