Instead of focussing on the clear failure of the 5 African teams to get out of their group in the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa, it is more appropriate to laud the achievement of the Ghana national team reaching the quarter finals, and meeting Uruguay, a side that pioneered the use of African players that led them to two World Titles.
Ghana have celebrated 53 years of independence, the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence. Under their founding father, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana used football as a means to transcend the different ideologies, identities, tribes, not only in Ghana, but as a means to create a United States of Africa with his Pan-Africanism. Ghana reached a record four Africa Nations Cup finals between 1963-1970, winning two. Despite producing the first African stars of the day, such as Wilberforce Mfum and Ibrahim Sunday, they had to wait until 2006 to qualify for their first World Cup, but since then, they have grown in stature, reaching the last 16 in 2006 losing to Brazil, now reaching the last 8 in 2010 after defeating the USA.
What Ghana have shown is that with the right structures, it is possible to progress in serenity. They have invested heavily in football, built on youth performance, that saw them make history, the first African side to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009, many of whom have filtered into the senior side. Even without their most high profile player in Michael Essien, Ghana have shown they are more than equipped to play good football and win.
What will make their clash with Uruguay interesting, is that the South American side was the first to pioneer the use of African players, most descendants of enslaved people. Modern football owes much to the likes of Isabelino Gradin and Jorge Andrade, black players of such talent that Chile at the time launched a protest that Uruguay were fielding Africans and not Uruguayans. These players fired Uruguay to 9 Copa America wins between 1916-1956, and two World titles won in 1930 and 1950, Obdulio Varela the first player of African heritage to captain a team to a World Cup win. Without these pioneers, the likes of Pélé would not have been inspired, and then the likes of Milla would not have been inspired to play at the highest stage, Uruguay has done its part to develop African status.
As for the match on 2 July 2010, both teams have not been rated highly, but have been impressive in reaching the quarter finals, Ghana will be crippled by suspensions, Uruguay have one of the most potent attack forces in the tournament, Ghana have shown extraordinary defensive organization. Whatever the outcome, those who support African football, will have a team in the semi-final they should be proud to support, both for their role in reflecting the image of Africans.