Ghana aim to block U.S.
Donovan: ‘It’s going to be a pretty cool occasion for our country’
RUSTENBURG — Four years after sending the United States crashing out of the World Cup, Ghana’s Black Stars again block the Americans’ path and are the only African team into the knockout rounds.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton is among the American supporters who will make his way to this rural farm town for today’s match after watching Landon Donovan score in stoppage time for a 1-0 U.S. victory over Algeria to advance.
“Hands down, the biggest moment in my career. That’s something I will have embedded in my mind forever,” Donovan said.
“My guess is Saturday is going to be a pretty cool occasion for our country.”
Moments from a repeat of 2006’s disappointment, the Americans continued a thrillride run that has them ranked atop their quarter of the draw with dreams of matching the 1930 U.S. semi-final run from a World Cup with only 13 teams.
The Americans rallied to draw England 1-1, came back from two goals down to draw Slovenia 2-2 with a disallowed winning goal and shook off another controversial no-goal referee call to solve Algeria at the death to ad- vance.
“We’re like the ‘Cardiac Kids’ at the moment,” U’S. goalkeeper TimHowardsaid. “That emotion, that passion is what American sports fans thrive on.”
Several U.S. players have said that the memory of the 2006 flop is in the back of their minds, an exit caused by a 2-1 loss to Ghana in the 2006 group stage. Donovan in particular was ripped for the failure, but has moved past it now.
“I’ve already put that behind me. This is the chance to do something special.”
Ghana’s Black Stars, however, are ready to spoil the U.S. show once again.
“From the beginning of the tournament, we were all dreaming to go to the semi-finals and now we have a big chance to do it,” said Ghana defender Hans Sarpei, who plays for Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen.
“Now anything can happen. We are playing very well …”
South Korea or Uruguay await the U.S.-Ghana winner instead of once-possible powerhouse foes as Germany or Argentina.
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, who calls the Americans “heart attack-esque” for their tendency to play their best when pushed to the edge, knows how dangerous Ghana are.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Bocanegra said. “They have some players who are capable of scoring goals. They are an athletic side. You never count them out.”
Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan says his team is on the right path despite his two penalty kicks being the only World Cup goals for the Black Stars.
“The Americans are a very good team. They expend a lot of energy and are strong physically,” Gyan said. “But we too have good players. It is for that that we have so much self-confidence.”
FINAL FRONTIER: Ghana’s Dede Ayew (left) and John
Pantsil celebrate advancing to the second round. The Black Stars are carrying a
continent’s hopes against