Black Stars are last hope for Africa

Six African nations were among the 32 sides in the 2010 World Cup. But the Black Stars are the only one to have survived into the last 16.

JOHANNESBURG // Ghana will carry the hopes of Africa when they face the United States today. Six African nations were among the 32 sides in the 2010 World Cup. But the Black Stars are the only one of the six to have survived into the last 16. Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast and South Africa, the host nation, have all been eliminated in the first World Cup on the continent. Jomo Sono, the former coach of South Africa, said it has been a disappointing World Cup for Africa and added that African teams needed to learn that "playing as a collective is more important that relying on individuals."

Sulley Muntari, the Ghana midfielder, does not seem to be weighed down by the expectations. He said the Ghanaians want to at least reach the semi-finals, a feat no African team has managed before. "We want to do it for Africa. We want to break records," Muntari said. Ghana lost their final Group D match 1-0 to Germany but advanced thanks to Australia, who beat Serbia 2-1. The Ghanaians beat Serbia 1-0 in their opener before drawing 1-1 with Australia.

Both of Ghana's goals were penalties, scored by Asamoah Gyan, which has raised some questions about the team's scoring ability. "It's a fact that we haven't scored from open play, but it does not mean that we can't play," Muntari said. "We will continue working hard on it." Ghana, the four-time African champions, are in the World Cup for only the second time. They defeated the United States 2-1 in the final group-stage match in 2006, eliminating the Americans from the tournament. They lost 3-0 to Brazil in the last 16.

Led by Milovan Rajevac, the Serbian, Ghana are hoping to do even better this time, despite the absence of the injured midfield enforcer Michael Essien. Bob Bradley, the US coach, said of his today's opponents: "We all know the types of players Ghana has produced, the great youth teams they've had and how they've done a great job of turning into very good teams at the full national-team level." * AP