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June 13, 2010 1:40 PM

Ghana: The Gonzaga of the World Cup?

Remember when Gonzaga was just a Cinderella team with a funny name? Today, of course, they're a perennial national contender in college basketball. But, in 1999, they were just an overlooked 10 seed. They advanced to the Elite 8 that year and the Sweet 16 in 2000 and 2001, prompting a swift rise from anonymity.

ghana.jpgGhana, with a 1-0 upset victory over Serbia today in the World Cup (without star Michael Essien), is making a case for itself as the equivalent of Gonzaga on a far larger stage. In 2006, an upstart Ghana side upended the Czech Republic and the United States en route to the knockout stage. Now, they're on their way to earning another surprise berth in the next round of the World Cup.

Obviously, the larger significance of today's result was the fact that Ghana became the first African team to win a World Cup game in Africa. But, for Ghana, it marks another step forward for a team that, though very talented and respected, doesn't have the mainstream sizzle of more established soccer powers.

And though some fans who see the highlights may be tempted to think that Ghana won purely on the good fortune of Zdravko Kuzmanovic's perplexing hand ball, the entire game was a hard-fought and evenly matched affair where both teams had legitimate chances before things came crumbling down for Serbia in the second half.

There's a lot still left to be determined, of course. Ghana will need to take care of business against Australia on Saturday, and salvaging a point against Germany on the 23rd could prove to be decisive. But, for now, the Black Stars finds themselves in prime position to escape the group stage and further establish themselves as a household name in the soccer world.

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