The World Cup: Bravo Black Stars

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[Black Star News Editorial]

A Sad End For Ghana At The 2010 World Cup In South Africa

Ghana's exit today after its defeat by Uruguay was the most cruel demise of any team in the entire history of the World Cup tournament since it started in 1930, ironically, in Uruguay.

Incidentally, Uruguay won that first World Cup tourney.

What makes Ghana's 4-2 loss via penalty kicks after overtime to Uruguay so bitter is of course six or so inches of the goal's crossbar. Ghana could have won it all before the 5-per-team penalty kicks phase of the contest.

Asamoah Gyan, Ghana's phenomenal striker, helped take The Black Stars to the doorsteps of the semi-finals, a feat that remains unaccomplished by any African nation. Ghana and four other African teams were part of the initial total of 32 teams when the tournament kicked off in South Africa on June 11--it was the first time the contest, held every four years, was being hosted by an African country. There were skeptics who doubted South Africa was capable of hosting an event of such international stature. South Africa's professionalism repudiated the naysayers' doomsday scenarios.

Some media made a huge deal of the fact that only one African country, Ghana, had made it to the Second Round elimination stage. The same media failed to notice that out of 13 European teams among the initial 32, only three now survive. A better story would have been why the African continent has only five slots.

Ghana was sailing high, making up for the early demise of Nigeria, Cameroon. Ivory Coast and Algeria. Ghana played an open free-flow and exciting style of soccer with precise counterattacks. One of its most exciting matches was the 2-1 victory over the United States team, which also played its heart out.

Then today, The Black Stars, as Ghana's national team is known, scored the first goal; Uruguay tied; and then came the painful end during overtime. Gyan could have won the game with his penalty kick, with no time left in the overtime period. The ball sailed high and crashed on the crossbar. Somehow, there was a sense that things could not get better for Ghana after that.

There was a sense among many Africans, and soccer lovers everywhere, that the miss would come back to haunt The Black Stars. And it sure did.

As the entire world now knows, Uruguay went on to win on penalty kicks. The intentional handball by the Uruguay player, Luis Suarez, turned out to be an act of brilliance--the ball would have gone in and Ghana would have won during the extra-time absent the handball. It was a risk worth taking for the Uruguay player. 

Still, Ghana played phenomenal soccer and showed the entire world --including the initially condescending ESPN commentators-- that The Black Stars are second to no soccer playing nation. Gone are the days when African nations, intimidated, would lose by 9-0 scores as the country once known as Zaire did at the 1974 World Cup, hosted by Germany.

Indeed, the level of disappointment at Ghana's exit today just shows how far African soccer has come and with it, elevated expectations. Ghana had played so well that many of its supporters believed The Black Stars could have gone all the way and even won the World Cup.

African soccer has arrived on the world stage. Bravo Black Stars.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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