Ghana Carries World Cup Hopes For A Continent Africa's only remaining hope in this first World Cup to be played on the continent faces Uruguay in a do-or-die quarterfinal Friday. South Africans are rallying behind the squad, and so is much of the rest of Africa.
NPR logo

Ghana Carries World Cup Hopes For A Continent

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128239470/128260116" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ghana Carries World Cup Hopes For A Continent

Ghana Carries World Cup Hopes For A Continent

Ghana Carries World Cup Hopes For A Continent

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128239470/128260116" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Ghana fans celebrate in the streets of Johannesburg after the team's victory in the World Cup match against Team USA on June 26. Ghana beat the United States 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Ghana fans celebrate in the streets of Johannesburg after the team's victory in the World Cup match against Team USA on June 26. Ghana beat the United States 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

More NPR World Cup 2010 Coverage

The Blog: "Show Me Your Cleats!"

The Schedule: Upcoming Matches

Ghana faces Uruguay in a do-or-die World Cup quarterfinal match in Johannesburg on Friday.

Ghana is Africa's only remaining hope in this first World Cup to be played on the continent. South Africans are rallying behind the squad, and so is much of the rest of Africa.

Ghanaians and their many new supporters have been jubilant since Ghana knocked out the United States 2-1 in a second-round match last Saturday.

Now the young Ghanaian side faces a determined Uruguay in a quarterfinal clash at Soccer City in Soweto.

Ghana gets a chance to make history by becoming the first African team to qualify for the semifinals -- or the Black Stars will bear the burden of failure for an entire continent.

"It's a historic moment for us," says midfielder Sulley Muntari, who is aware of the responsibility and pressure. It's "great, not only for us but for the whole of Ghana and Africa. So we want to do well for Ghana and for Africa."

Some important people are rooting for Ghana, including South African President Jacob Zuma, the powerful labor union confederation COSATU and the governing African National Congress. The ANC inquired whether the Black Stars of Ghana would consider changing their nickname to the Black Stars of Africa.

"Former President Mandela has invited them to meet him whether they win or lose," says Ibrahim Sannie, a Ghanaian soccer specialist. "For many people, they are heroes already, but they can become bigger heroes if they win."

Farayi Mungazi, a sports journalist and commentator from Zimbabwe, notes that five of the six African teams that qualified for this year's World Cup were knocked out in the first round, so Ghana's performance is crucial.

"Ghana have gone a long way toward restoring pride in the African game," Mungazi says. "They've gone a long way toward redeeming African football."

"We are moving into the quarterfinals of, to me, a wonderful people-driven World Cup," says Danny Jordaan, head of South Africa's World Cup organizing committee. "It's really the people of our country, the foreign fans that injected the energy, the passion around this event. And the prospects are just amazing for us."

And, what about Ghana's prospects?

"We have the possibility of an African team going beyond the frontiers never achieved by any African country," Jordaan says. "We hope that Ghana is already there and that we'll see the first African player to dance in the corner flag of a semifinal and the final of the World Cup."