U.S. Defeat Makes Ghana Africa's World Cup Hero

After defeating the U.S. 2-1 Saturday night in an emotional, must-win game in South Africa, Ghana has advanced to the quarter finals of the soccer World Cup. Victory for the team restores the continent's hopes, because Ghana is the only African team left in the 2010 tournament. Guest host Audie Cornish talks to NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about the celebration.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host:

Ghana defeated the United States yesterday in World Cup soccer. It was an emotional, hard-fought game decided in overtime.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, herself a Ghanaian, watched the game at a restaurant filled with her compatriots and joins us now. Hi, Ofeibea.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: Greetings from Johannesburg, Audie, where were still on a soccer high over here.

CORNISH: Well, I have to admit, were still a little disappointed here in the U.S. But it sounds like celebrations are still going on in South Africa for Ghanas win.

QUIST-ARCTON: Indeed, the Black Stars are really the nemesis of the Stars and Stripes. But Ghanaians and many other supporters of Ghanas Black Stars, from Africa and from elsewhere in the world, are simply ecstatic, I have to tell you.

CORNISH: What was the atmosphere like at the restaurant where you were watching?

QUIST-ARCTON: Electric. Electric. Every time there was an attempt at the goal, everybody would stand up and start screaming. And Audie, listen to what it was like when the Ghanaian forward Asamoah Gyan scored what turned out to be that winning goal, in the third minute of overtime.

(Soundbite of cheering)

CORNISH: Aside from making it to the quarter-finals, Ofeibea, explain why this was such an important game for Ghana and for Africa.

QUIST-ARCTON: Because the hopes of the whole continent are pinned on this one African team remaining, in what was meant to be Africas World Cup, the first time the World Cup has been held on African soil, in South Africa. So theres been a lot of pressure on the young Black Stars. And they are young players, but theyre the only ones that have made it through to the quarter-finals. And you know what, Audie, you could feel that when I spoke to some of the Ghanaian supporters after the victory.

Mr. KOFIA DIAMON: My name is Kofia Diamon(ph). Hey, I am feeling so great. So keep on supporting, and we will make Africa proud.

Mr. KEKE TETI: My name is Keke Teti(ph). We are on top of the world now. So congratulations to the Stars, once again. For the U.S., better luck next time.

CORNISH: Ofeibea, do you get the impression that support for Ghanas team is widespread throughout Africa?

QUIST-ARCTON: From what Im hearing, from the texts and emails I am getting from friends all over the world, definitely. But especially, of course, South Africans and Africans, because South Africas gone out. And Audie, it seems the whole continent now is saying, forward Black Stars.

That was summed up by this South African woman, Tembi Kakabra(ph). Shes married to a Ghanaian, and she says the Black Stars, the Ghana team, has made her feel like royalty.

How do you feel?

Ms. TEMBI KAKABRA: Ah, thats nice. Im a queen. They treat me like a queen. Thank you.

CORNISH: So Ofeibea, whats next for the Black Stars?

QUIST-ARCTON: Its not all over yet. It will be the first time in history, if an African team goes through to the semi-finals. But theyve got to face Uruguay on Friday in the quarter-finals.

CORNISH: NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in Johannesburg. Ofeibea, thank you.

QUIST-ARCTON: Always a pleasure, Audie.

CORNISH: You're listening to NPR News.

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