I have been sitting by my laptop for four hours, doing next to nothing and thinking about how to start this. First, I have never, in all the years of living in this country seen a Saturday when the nation has been so... QUIET. That silence, I believe, is deafening. But I will try...
The name Ghana means Warrior King and I am sure yesterday, our boys were exactly that: Warrior Kings.
Yes, we had the chance to make heady history and fluffed it. But when people let out all the anger, all the hurt and all the emotion, they would realise one thing:
Ghana has regained its place as the absolute master of African football.
Forget that Egypt have won six African Nations Cup titles. After all we have won four. (update: it's seven titles)
Nigeria? Senegal? Cameroon? Ivory Coast?
They are big, but Ghana has done something it is noted for doing in other spheres of life: we have united the continent in ways that you cannot imagine.
This is the team their coach has (already!) named to face us Friday: (4-3-1-2) Muslera; Maxi Pereira, Lugano, Victorino, Fucile; Alvaro Fernández, Diego Pérez, Arévalo Ríos; Diego Forlán; Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez.
A Uruguayan historian once said: "other countries have their history, Uruguay has its football."
Suppose we can say the same for Ghana. It would take some strong guts and wits to go past a Uruguayan side that has shown few or no fissures in South Africa - yet.
Taberez has started the mind games by naming his squad so early. Getty Images
Keeping clean sheets gets defenders beaming with smiles. And this comes no easier defending against Luis Suarez and Diego Forlán. The pair has scored three and two goals respectively at this World Cup, so far. In them, Uruguay has arguably the most potent strike force in South Africa.
Both players were top scorers for their clubs in the season just finished. A trait that must get our own Milovan Rajevac quaking. Forlán scored the two goals that won the Europa League final for Atletico Madrid, finishing the season with 28 goals. Diego Forlan’s at the peak of his footballing powers and has taken the prospect at South Africa 2010 to strengthen his position as one of the best in the game.
Under the spotlight, Suarez hasn’t faded. Despite being only 23, he is already captain Ajax and scored 49 times in 48 games in last season's Dutch Erevidisie. He's also transformed his club form into the international theater, scoring 11 goals in 33 caps for his country.
Will Gyan feel the effects of tournament fatigue? Getty Images
Getting into the quarters with Uruguay next Friday is big news. But the job is only quite beginning.
We are not out of the World Cup but I think we can look at what has served us well till now and build on it. We've been tactically disciplined. The lads have played very much to instruction under Milovan Rajevac than we've seen a Ghana team do in aeons. Sometimes they haven't liked what they've been told to do, but bottom line is we've been given results.
Even the Ghana FA acknowledges this as the President Kwesi Nyantakyi says: “having discipline dovetails into the performance of the team.” For those who think it's a joke, Nyantakyi adds that if Sulley Muntari “misbehaves again he will be thrown out.”
From the Serbia game in the beginning to the draw with the Aussies and the loss to Oezil's Germany, nobody has found us easy to break down. I think that we even should have won the Aussie game, but that's in the past.
Stat of the day: Ghana has made history by improving on the last 16 finish it made in Germany four years ago. It is our first time in the quarters and we're the third AFrican team in the quarters, after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002
As we've made it to the last eight, Accra and all other parts of Ghana are going ballistic.
And you must understand why. The job is not done but the emotion here is raw, passionate and telling.
Last week and throughout this week, thousands of people have been displaced by floods, people have also died and lost property and when the guys do these things, it makes us forget all our problems.
My, someone pinch me!
Ghana’s Black Stars once again showed why it is the hope of Africa by advancing to the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup. Ghana won 2-1.
The United States was eliminated from the World Cup by Ghana for the second straight time as Asamoah Gyan scored 3 minutes into overtime, leading the Black Stars to a 2-1 second-round victory Saturday night.
Kevin Prince Boateng put Ghana ahead when he stripped the ball from Ricardo Clark in the 5th minute and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard from 16 yards. Ghana did not manage a goal from open play in their group games – their four points came courtesy of two penalties – yet they lost no time in opening their account in the knockout stage.
With just five minutes gone, Kevin-Prince Boateng dispossessed Ricardo Clark in the centre circle and set off on an impressive run. By the time Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra woke up to the danger, Boateng was striding into their penalty area, and though he struck the ball early, he did so with a conviction and an accuracy that surprised Howard.
Once again, the U.S. came back, and Landon Donovan tied the score with a penalty kick in the 62nd minute after Jonathan Mensah pulled down Clint Dempsey streaking in. But no matter how much the Americans pressured after Gyan scored, they couldn't tie it again.
In 2006, Ghana scored thrpugh goals by Haminu Draman and Stephen Appiah, but this time Appiah came from the bench and Draman, who was not a part of the team in SA, watched from Accra.
Millions of people thronged the streets and danced and made merry after the win.
“I am going to party till the break of dawn,” said Maria Asante said.
It's a bit late, I know, but still here are the ratings for the guys in the Germany game. Again, I had egg on my face as I'd said in the preview that the Germans would try every dirty trick in the book to get past us. They were fair and deserved the win. Like I said in the preview, Ozil was the difference. Ratings follow after the jump.
Ghana - Germany Stadium: Soccer City Stadium, Jo'burg, South Africa Match Time: 1830 GMT, June 23, 2010
Stat of the day: Germany have won their final group matches in the last four World Cup tournaments, without conceding a single goal in the last three
At the moment Milovan Rajevac's side are top of Group D with four points from two matches. A draw with Germany will be enough to see us through regardless of the result between Australia and Serbia.
You can feel the pressure in the German camp. A draw will not be enough for them to go through. That means we must battle this one to the death.
At the back, John Mensah is said to be in good condition and will play. So is Isaac Vorsah. Mensah says he and his lads do not feel any pressure:
“I don’t think there is pressure on us.
“They will probably have more pressure because they are favourites. We all know Germany has a good team, but we believe we have a good team as well. We have to keep things tight, stay compact and I’m sure we can win the match."
John Panstil is ok, after the bloody injury he got at the end of the last game.
Their mindset of being superior in their gameplay may make them overzealous and that's where we need to be calm and levelheaded. No outbursts, no swearing and no gesticulations. Just be cool and collected.
Stat of the day: Since Fifa increased the World Cup teams to 32 teams in 1998, it's been a fairly safe bet that you will qualify for the last 16 if you win your first game - this has happened 86% of the time - and go out if you lost your first - 92%.
4 points from 2 matches, +1 goal differential
Wins the group with:
* A win over Germany
* A draw with Germany, combined with an Australia-Serbia draw Qualifies with above scenarios plus:
* A draw with Germany (regardless of other result)
* A loss to Germany, combined with an Australia-Serbia draw that leaves Ghana ahead of Serbia on goal difference / tie-breakers.
* A loss to Germany, combined with an Australia win that leaves Ghana ahead of Australia o goal difference / tie-breakers.
3 points from 2 matches, +3 goal differential
Wins the group with:
* A win over Ghana, as long as Serbia doesn’t win by enough to beat Germany on goal difference. Qualifies with above scenario plus:
* A win over Ghana (regardless of other result)
* A draw with Ghana combined with an Australia-Serbia draw (Germany win on goal difference).
* A draw with Ghana combined with an Australia win that leaves Germany ahead of Australia on goal difference / tie-breakers.
3 points from 2 matches, 0 goal differential
Wins the group with:
* A win over Australia combined with a Germany-Ghana draw.
* A win over Australia combined with a Germany win that leaves Serbia ahead of Germany on goal difference / tie-breakers. Qualifies with above scenario plus:
* A win over Australia (regardless of other result)
* A draw with Australia, combined with a Germany win that leaves Serbia ahead of Ghana on goal difference / tie-breakers.
* Serbia can qualify by drawing Australia if Ghana beats Germany.
1 point from 2 matches, -4 goal differential
Australia cannot win the group.
Qualify with the following scenario:
* A win over Serbia, combined with a Germany win over Ghana that leaves Australia ahead of Ghana on goal difference / tie-breakers.
* A win over Serbia by 8 goals, combined with a Germany-Ghana draw (Australia beats Germany on goal difference)
* A win over Serbia and Ghana beats Germany.
Ghana 1-1 Australia Stadium: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, South Africa Attendance: 34,812 Match Time: 14:00 GMT, June 19, 2010
Panstil sustained a horrible injury at the end. Getty Images
Stats:22 shots on goal
Two points dropped, one point gained. That's what it was.
Ghana lost a chance to potentially get out of Group D. No matter what anyone says, we should have won. Ten men in the first half for your opponent means that you go for the kill, not sit and be composed. That said, a draw is better than a loss and we go into the Germany tie with another draw or win on our minds...
Now that you've seen Ghana's two games, let's ask again:
Obed Boafo tries to grasp what World Cup football does to the entire nation of Ghana.
Some four years ago, in Germany, some 23 young men made Ghana proud by participating in the FIFA World Cup – their first appearance at that stage.
Back in Ghana, their compatriots were in a jamboree of red, yellow and green colors of the national flag in a show of unity and solidarity.
Never in my twenty something years stay in the capital city of Accra had I ever witnessed such a colourful and splendid moment. For the first time in so many city years, I saw a Ghana united by colours, a Ghana where each person was the other’s keeper and a Ghana where, complete nonsense was made of politics (our daily bread).
In fact, this was the moment where you could make too much noise on your next door neighbour and expect to be forgiven, run into another person’s car and walk away free because a goal was scored against the United States of America, go to work late and expect your boss to wince at you in a friendly manner and even cheat on your partner, get caught and not get queried! That was the magic of Germany 2006…
You could imagine all those who committed one crime or the other say “we did it under the influence of football” (Not alcohol!).
I've been looking to see if the Serbian media would hound Ghana's coach Milovan Rajevac for, perhaps, being unpatriotic.
It's happened before
Although it is an issue largely ignored by other media outlets, Milovan's situation does recall the ugliness that followed the heavy defeat suffered by then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) at the hands of Yugoslavia when the two countries met in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.
The 9-0 thumping in Gelsenkirchen remains a low point for African football and had life-changing ramifications for the players, who went from hero to zero, unpaid for their exploits and denied cars and properties promised them by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko as a reward for World Cup qualification.
Many of the surviving members of that side today live in poverty.
Serbia’s national newspapers, thankfully, left their 56-year old son alone. But they declared a period of mourning after the national team’s 1-0 defeat to Ghana.
They must now win twice to guarantee qualification for the last 16. That seems unlikely if the mood of the Belgrade press pack is anything to go by.