Ghana could be Africa's saviour

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:51 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG --- South Africa is a nation desperate to have something or someone to cheer for.

Early in this tournament, is was the home team Bafana Bafana boys.

Now that their qualification to the second round is on death's door, South Africa is looking for another of their own to cheer on.

Ghana may fill that role. But will South Africa be disappointed again?

Ghana wasted an opportunity to take a huge step toward the second round in Group D Saturday when it was held to a 1-1 draw by Australia.

While it did go to the top of the Group D table with four points, one ahead of Serbia and Germany, it could put great pressure on the two European teams by winning.

The Aussies played with 10 men for 67 minutes when Harry Kewell was red-carded for handling the ball on the goalline and the Socceroos already leading 1-0 on a goal by Brett Holman. Asamoah Gyan scored on the ensuing penalty.

Ghana smelled blood with so much time left and up a man. But Ghana was disappointing. It fell into the trap so many African teams fall into, individual play, indecision and inconsistency.

When the opportunity came to seize the game by the throat, it grew steadily worse. It is this type of performance that has so often disappointed fans of African teams.

FIFA needs an African team in the tournament, maybe a couple. The fear is that with South Africa on the brink of elimination and no other African team assured of moving on, it might prove disastrous.

Ghana thrilled Africa by being the only team from Africa to win its first game.

It should have won its second against Australia, but the Aussies showed more heart and commitment and Ghana was satisfied with the tie.

Settling is something too many African teams wind up doing instead of taking charge. A win would not have qualified Ghana, but it now needs points against Germany to have a chance of going through.

"The result is quite good because we have four points now," said Ghana manager Milovan Rajevac. "We will see how things go against Germany. Even if we had won, the last match would still have been very important.

"You see, there is no game won in advance at the World Cup and we can regret our missed chances today, but this is football. I'm saying again, we would have been in the same situation even if we had won and had six points."

What was most troubling for the Black Stars though was how they allowed the Aussies to take control of the game even though they only had 10 men. The Australians carried the game in the final 20 minutes and were unfortunate not to score a winner.

So now South Africa must hold its breath yet again and see if yet again, one of their teams fall short.

Every African team that goes out is one less opportunity for the game to flourish, one less opportunity for a major breakthrough for an African team and one less opportunity for African teams to learn how to win.

Ghana had the chance to take a big step for football and the game on the continent.

But once again, a team fell short.


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