Michael Essien was today revelling in the "fantastic feeling" of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after he scored one of two goals against Sudan to help Ghana seal a place at next year's showpiece event.
The Black Stars, who made their first FIFA World Cup appearance at the 2006 edition in Germany, became the first qualifier from the African Zone after a 2-0 scoreline in Accra. Milovan Rajevac's team had needed a win at the Ohene Djan Stadium and, in front of a capacity 45,000 spectators, they did not disappoint.
Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari (13) broke the deadlock early on, before Chelsea star Essien (53) added a second to make it four wins from four for the west Africans in Group D. They now join hosts South Africa, Brazil, Holland, Japan, Australia, Korea Republic and Korea DPR as the eighth team to qualify.
The people of Ghana wanted us to win and we did not let them down. What
a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the
first World Cup to be staged in Africa.
The 26-year-old said: "It was so important to win, regardless of how we achieved the result. It is still special for us professionals to return home and bring joy to the people of Ghana.
"Teamwork brought us success as in previous qualifiers. The side did not feel under pressure because we are used to playing in front of packed crowds like the one in Accra tonight. The people of Ghana wanted us to win and we did not let them down. What a fantastic feeling to be the first African country to qualify for the first World Cup to be staged in Africa."
Serbian Rajevac, who only took charge of Ghana in August last year, described the achievement as his greatest ever success.
He told kickoffghana.com: "Ghana has been there once and they understand that it is important to be there again. The second time is always significant and I am so happy for everyone who came out here today. This is my greatest success as a coach and I hope there will be more to come."