Friday, July 2, 2010
Ghana carry Africa's hopes, Brazil face Dutch
While all of Africa got behind the Black Stars for their attempt to be the first Africans to reach the semi-finals when they face Uruguay on Friday, FIFA threatened to sanction Nigeria for political interference.
Jerome Valcke, secretary general of soccer's governing body, said Nigeria would be suspended from world soccer if President Goodluck Jonathan did not reverse his withdrawal of the team from international competition because of its dismal World Cup performance.
Speaking in a local radio interview, Valcke gave Nigeria a deadline of 1600 GMT on Monday to comply.
FIFA had already warned the French government to keep out of soccer after parliament launched an inquiry into the 2006 runner-up's ignominious early exit here.
A survey in the Netherlands, which has never won the trophy despite its admired style of free-flowing soccer, said 40 percent of all workers would take the day off, or a half-day, to watch the afternoon match in Port Elizabeth.
"They are always difficult and beautiful games," said Dunga of the match. He captained the five-times World Cup winners to victory over the same opponents in the 1994 and 1998 tournaments.
The Ghana Football Association said it had received a message of support from Nelson Mandela, Africa's most revered statesman. "We join everybody else on the continent and in the diaspora in wishing you success," Mandela said.
The provincial government of Gauteng, around Johannesburg, South Africa's business hub, has taken out newspaper advertisements and put up posters backing Ghana.
Striker Asamoah Gyan said they could make history.
"We have an opportunity to do something never done before... we have no doubt we have all the African support."
The first two quarter-finals restart the World Cup action after a two-day lull.
Uruguay also have history calling them.
The other two quarter-finals, on Saturday, pit Argentina against Germany and Paraguay v Spain.
FIFA said the captain of every quarter-finalist would read out a declaration condemning racism and any other form of discrimination in both soccer and society.
(Reporting by Reuters World Cup team; Writing by Barry Moody and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Ossian Shine)
Pictures from AFP.