Ghana are on the brink of writing a new chapter in the history of African football at the FIFA World Cup™ finals. And, as the only African side still left in the competition, the rest of the continent, including some of its most celebrated football stars, are united in backing the Black Stars.
Ghana will flirt with fate and destiny when they face Uruguay in what is expected to be a pulsating quarter-final at Soccer City on Friday night. A berth in the last four at the finals would be an unprecedented feat for an African side, and the Black Stars camp and the rest of Africa are fully aware that the team are on the verge of penning their own fairytale ending with the likes of Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah and the rest as heroes. The third African side to qualify for the quarter-finals, Ghana could be forgiven for dreaming of lifting Africa's first FIFA World Cup Trophy, on 'home' soil no less.
As Ghana paddle down unfamiliar waters to the land of the unknown, the streets in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, have been gripped by the fever of expectancy. But from the Cape to Cairo, Africa is also hoping for a 'miracle' from the youthful Ghanian side. While no-one has been underestimating the might and strength of the Uruguayans, the Black Stars have played with skill, passion, tenacity and, most importantly, they have looked like a side with a plan and a strong will to execute it. FIFA.com spoke to a number of past and present African football stars and supporters for their views on the team's chances.
Cameroon midfielder, Alex Song, said he fancied the Black Stars to pull off a major coup at this tournament. "They are a great team and have played very good football throughout this competition. For them to be this far is a credit to their dedication. I’m confident they will do well," he said.
South Africa left-back Tsepho Masilela also backed Ghana to reach the semis. "From day one, I knew that they would do well. Considering what they achieved in the African Cup of Nations with a youthful squad, I believe they can go even further. We all support them now," he said referring to their second-place finish in Angola earlier this year.
Steven Pienaar, who is by miles the most decorated player in the Bafana Bafana side, said Ghana could count on their support. "We hoped that there would be more African teams to play in the knock-out stages, but I guess the most important thing is to support whichever African side goes forward. Ghana are a quality side, they have some good players and they have the potential," said the Everton man.
This is Ghana's second successive FIFA World Cup appearance after they won hearts in 2006, eventually losing to Brazil in the Round of 16. They have surpassed that record now after beating USA in the second round, but it is likely that they will have to step up their high-gear campaign even further on Friday.
South African football legend, Jomo Sono, who guided Bafana Bafana at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, had earlier predicted that Ghana would do well. "For me, [Ghana] are the most impressive side, they are so organised and can go far at this tournament," he said. "What I can say is that once an African team goes to the knock-out stages, it won't be easy for any team that will have to face them. Confidence will be a key factor."
Former Ghana defender Samuel Osei Kuffour said: "Uruguay is a good team and they have showed that here, but Ghana has been good too and this presents a good opportunity. I hope these players can take it one step further."
Despite his team's disappointing outing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o remains one of the most lethal strikers on African soil. He believes that Ghana have what it takes to weather the storms and register their names in history. "They are a young side and are full of potential," said Eto'o, a UEFA Champions League winner with Barcelona and Inter Milan. "They are not only representing their country, but the African continent. I wish them all the best and I believe they have what it takes to advance further in this competition."