, JOHANNESBURG, Jun 27 – South Africa rejoiced Sunday as Ghana became only the third African team ever to make the World Cup quarter-finals, as England crashed out of the tournament after a defeat by Germany.
Even South Africa\’s organisers shed their neutrality to welcome the victory of the "Black Stars" as the only nation still carrying a flag from the continent in the first tournament held on its soil.
"We welcome them into the quarter-finals," said Rich Mkhondo, spokesman for the local organising committee.
"Even though we are organising this event for various nations, we are glad an African team is still flying the African flag," he told reporters.
"We wish them luck in their game against Uruguay," he said.
The sentiment was reflected in local media and even by the government.
The Sunday Times proclaimed "Black Stars flying high", over a picture of defender John Pantsil racing with Ghana\’s national flag after their 2-1 win.
"Ghana shatter American dream," said The Sunday Independent.
"Even with the burden of carrying an entire continent, Ghana could not fail here last night," the paper said. "Throughout Africa, from Phokeng to Accra, celebrations reverberated from the final whistle and long into the evening."
South Africa\’s ruling African National Congress — which began as the continent\’s first liberation movement — also hailed the victory, clearly relieved to see an African team progress after the hosts crashed out in the group stages.
"The ANC would like to thank the Ghana National Soccer Team (the Black Stars) for salvaging the image of the continent in this tournament," the party said in a statement soon after the match ended late Saturday.
"We are very confident that having gone this far, you are indeed heading for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals on our soil. We are very proud of you, as South Africa and as part of the continent of Africa, you are our pride."
Despite Bafana Bafana\’s loss, South Africa is still revelling in its hosting of the World Cup, which has so far overcome worries about crime and poor public transport and seen no major incident.
Germany pulled the biggest upset of the tournament in front of a packed Bloemfontein stadium Sunday when they beat the star-studded England side by four goals to one.
The long rivalry between English and German supporters has in the past triggered some brutal episodes of hooligan violence.
When the teams played each other in the European championships a decade ago, riot police had to fire water cannon to bring order on the streets of the Belgian town of Charleroi.
In the small town of Bloemfontein, security officials were out in force to monitor the fans, with riot police and the army at the ready, but no violence was reported.
"The police will monitor the fans through out the night. The night before the match was quiet, with no reports of trouble," said provincial police spokesman Sam Makhele.
"We have increased our forces on the ground, around the stadium, around the mall and the entertainment area," he said.
Before the match, fans for both teams mingled in a joyous mood, shared beers and anecdotes in the South African sunshine.
English and German police officers had travelled to South Africa to advise local forces how to handle drunken fans and identify troublemakers.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, the head of the English police delegation, said his colleagues keeping an eye on World Cup parties back home were likely to have more trouble than he was anticipating in South Africa.
"With thousands of football fans, and with alcohol, there\’s always the potential for poor behaviour and the like. But I genuinely believe that there\’s not going to be the large-scale disorder that we saw in Charleroi," he told AFP.
Later Sunday former champions Argentina saw off Mexico 3-1, setting up a last eight showdown with Germany in Cape Town on July 3.