Germany set up a last 16 showdown with England courtesy of a 1-0 win over Ghana at Soccer City, with the Black Stars also going through. Milovan Rajevac can be satisfied: his team is the only African team in the second round. Just like in 2006.
With Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa failing to reach the final 16, all of Africa relied on Ghana to make up for it against Germany, waiting for Ivory Coast’s inevitable and unavoidable trashing of North Korea.
But the Ghaneans, once dubbed the "Brazilians of Africa" have turned into the "Italians of Africa". Minimal victories, tight defense and realistic attack have been the mark of the Black Stars in recent years. Efficient but not exactly what you’d call joga bonito. As a matter of fact, Ghana scored two goals in this tournament, both penalties.
In this make or break game, the Mannschaft needed a win. Germany have never failed to successfully negotiate the group phase at a World Cup, and their huge volume of fans inside Soccer City do not expect that to change. If Joachim Low’s men needed more motivation, they only needed to be reminded of Kevin-Prince Boateng’s presence in the line up of the Black Stars. The one and only Portsmouth midfielder whose tackle ruled Germany captain Michael Ballack out of the tournament.
The better start was for the Europeans. Germany happy to build patiently on the ball at Soccer City, and at the end of one such move Jonathan Mensah deflects a Lukas Podolski cross goalwards, forcing Ghana keeper Richard Kingson into a fabulous stop (7’).
The Wigan keeper proved why he is considered one of the best African keepers, denying both Özil (24’) and Schweinsteiger (41’). As usual, Ghana only managed to lash back by their top scorer, Rennes’ very own Asamoah Gyan (51’).
The ever present Germany needed a win and grabbed it. Mesut Özil, with a delicious, dipping left-foot shot from the edge of the area provides it, the ball flying into the net.
With Australia surprisingly beating Serbia in the other game (2-1), it looked good for both teams in the Nelspruit stadium. There were some horribly nervous moments for the Ghanaians after the final whistle as they waited for news to filter through from Nelspruit, but the stadium announcer gets the biggest cheer of the day with ’Australia 2-1 Serbia’.