RURUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — Africa’s still at the World Cup party after Ghana realized the hopes of a continent by reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.
Host South Africa and four other African teams exited the tournament at the group stage of the continent’s first World Cup, but the Black Stars qualified for the round of 16.
Now they’ve eliminated the United States with a 2-1 victory in extra time Saturday night. Next up for Ghana is Uruguay, which it will play Friday in Johannesburg.
“Me and my colleagues were very disappointed there were no African teams with us,” forward Dede Ayew said. “Now we are lucky to be here, we must fight, not just for us, but for the other teams that are not here.
“We feel we have a continent behind us and the whole of Africa behind us and that’s given us a lot of energy to fight more.”
Asamoah Gyan scored Ghana’s second goal.
“We’ve made everybody proud,” he said. “Not Ghana alone, but all of Africa.”
Indeed, after South Africa’s Bafana Bafana were eliminated, national leaders urged fans to stay involved with the World Cup. Ghana quickly became a focal point, and the stadium in Rustenburg was about split between U.S. and Black Star fans.
As people in Mozambique celebrated in the streets, South Africa’s governing African National Congress issued a statement calling the Black Stars “our pride.”
“We are very confident that having gone this far, you are indeed heading for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals on our soil,” the ANC said.
Back home, Ghana’s win was met with delirium.
Mike Pappoe, a 24-year-old university student in Accra, pulled his shirt off in joy.
“We have proved that we are a soccer force in Africa and the continent should be proud of us,” he said. “Today’s win must be a source of jubilation because if we had lost, we would have put Africa to shame.”
At Madina, a suburb of the capital, cars sounded their horns as fans danced in the streets.
“The whole continent was looking up to them,” said 17-year-old Mohammed Abu, whose dream is to be a professional soccer player.
After Ghana scored in extra time, said 34-year-old street vendor Abena Serwa, “my heart was jumping for close to 15 minutes.”
“It felt like the clock was not ticking.”
Associated Press writer Francis Kokutse in Accra contributed to this report.