Evening Standard

Asamoah Gyan insisted today that Ghana’s victory at the World Cup would be the catalyst for the rest of the African nations in the tournament.

South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria all failed to win over the weekend before the Ghanians claimed three points as they beat Serbia 1-0.

Gyan’s 84th-minute penalty won the game after Serbian defender Zdravko Kuzmanovic was judged to have handled the ball.

The striker, who plays for Rennes in France, said: “This is the first time the World Cup is being held in Africa so it is a happy moment that an African team have won against a European team. This was for our family here and all our family back home who were expecting it. Not only Ghana but the whole of Africa.”

The manner of the Ghanian’s victory — Gyan also hit the post twice, once after a delightful move — released a wave of emotion right through Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld and beyond.

Midfielder Andre Ayew, son of one of Africa’s acclaimed heroes, Abedi Pele, acknowledged that the win was an important one for the continent but insisted it was three points first and foremost for his country.

He said: “Yes, this is the first time the World Cup has come to Africa and every time an African country plays, the fans get behind them.

“That happened when Algeria lost to Slovenia. But for us Ghana comes first and not Africa. For us it does not matter whether we are the first African team to beat a European one, we win as a team and it was important for us to win the first match.”

Even the Serbs, who were making their debut in the tournament, were prepared to concede that Ghana had outplayed them. Defender Branislav Ivanovic felt they did not miss his injured Chelsea team-mate Michael Essien, who is back in London nursing a knee problem.

“Ghana deserved to win,” he said. “They created a very difficult situation for us. Ghana has improved a lot in the last year and even without Michael it is a really good, strong team.”

And for all the protests by Kuzmanovic that it was not a penalty, his fellow defender, Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic, had no quarrels with the decision. He said: “As for the penalty, he touched the ball. We had a few chances, we did not score and were punished. They won and deserved to win.”

On the sending-off of fellow defender Aleksandar Lukovic for a second yellow card, Vidic said. “I leave to you to decide if it was red card or not.

“I have my opinion and I don’t want to say anything about that.”


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