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Living in Europe, winning in Africa, the Ghana way

To the blast of vuvuzelas and the rhythm of the Mexican Wave, two teams comprising entirely of Europe-based players contested in the capital of South Africa in a perfect example of globalisation, reports Dhiman Sarkar.

sports Updated: Jun 14, 2010 00:31 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

To the blast of vuvuzelas and the rhythm of the Mexican Wave, two teams comprising entirely of Europe-based players contested in the capital of South Africa in a perfect example of globalisation.

Only five of the 46 listed as Serbia and Ghana players work at home and none of them started on Sunday. All the Ghanaians who played at the Loftus Versfeld stadium are employed in Europe. The first one to play at home, Lee Addy, came on as a time-wasting tactic replacing Kevin Prince-Boateng. And they are coached by Milovan Rajevic, a Serb.

World Cup No. 19 may go to any of FIFA's seven confederations but if proof was needed about Europe's influence on the world game, this was it. That the English Premier League is the most represented competition in this World Cup tells its own story. This group D game had four from each side earning their wages in England.

With almost everyone knowing everyone else's game --- goalkeepers Vladimir Stojkovic and Richard Kingson are teammates at Wigan --- it needed an individual to make a difference. Quirkily that came off a handball from Zdravko Kuzmanovic. Asamoah Gyan slotted home and broke into a dance by the sideline a la South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala.

Down to 10 men after Aleksander Lukovic was shown the red card for a second bookable offence, Serbia's hopes of an equaliser was drowned in the noise the crowd generated for the remaining eight minutes. Gyan was denied a second by the upright.

After a first half of few clear chances Ghana tried using the width of the park. Prince Tagoe's pace on the right forced Aleksander Kolarov to curb his offensive instincts and Andre Ayew continued keeping defender Branislav Ivanovic busy.

Early in the first half, Marko Pantelic, the only over-30 Serb apart from skipper Dejan Stankovic, who became the first player to represent three countries, was let down by poor control. Early in the second that happened to Nikola Zigic after Pantelic found his strike partner. John Pantsil then celebrated Africa's first win of the 2010 finals by doing a lap of honour with the Ghana flag. In the centre of the field Man of the Match Gyan gently swayed his hips. This one was for Africa.