Black Stars set for spirited US

South Africans have a new to team cheer on. Ghana’s providential progress to the round of 16 has spared the home fans of the headache of adopting a nation from outside their continent.

The Black Stars, who scraped through despite defeat to Germany in Group D on Wednesday, have given the World Cup a huge lift. We don’t know whether the Ghanaians had the time to thank Australia because without Socceroos’ upset win over Serbia, they would be mourning in Accra by this time.
Ghana will seek to make the most of their rebirth in the World Cup when they face USA in the round of 16 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium here on Saturday and will have the aspirations of an entire continent riding on their shoulders.
The way USA advanced was no less dramatic. With the clock ticking away inexorably to indicate that it was all over for the Americans, inspirational midfielder Landon Donovan popped up to stab home a rebound in stoppage time. Donovan’s opportunism transformed US fans’ sense of resignation into a show of unbridled joy.
US coach Bob Bradley wouldn’t have lost perspective with his team’s heart-stopping win. Bradley’s boys struggled to find the back of the net despite cutting Algeria’s fragile defence into shreds time and again. Such profligacy rarely goes unpunished, but Wednesday was USA’s day.
Fulham forward Clint Dempsey looked weary and ponderous. Jozy Altidore was industrious up front but he was isolated on many occasions. The Americans didn’t use the width of the pitch effectively as they worked the right wing overtime to cut in. They also lacked bite aerially.
The less said the better about Ghana’s shooting prowess. The Black Stars have demonstrated that they can score only from 12 yards, as both their goals in the group stage came from the penalty spot. Asamoah Gyan and Kwadwo Asamoah must get sharper if their team has to keep the African party going.
Ghana’s Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac would have been encouraged by the way his youthful side (Ghana have the youngest squad in South Africa with an average age of 24.1) unhinged Germany’s well-oiled defence repeatedly. He will only be hoping that the Asamoahs aren’t overcome by shyness in front of goal on Saturday.
The Black Stars can also take comfort from the result of their previous encounter with the US at the World Cup. The Ghanaians entered the second round in Germany, then also as Africa’s sole representatives, four years ago after a 2-1 win over the Americans.

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