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World Cup Quarterfinals Set for Friday

  • Sonny Young

In the Friday's first match, Brazil will play the Netherlands at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Some are calling this game worthy of a World Cup final. Both teams seem to be in top form before the game.

The Dutch have won all four of their World Cup matches, and Brazil coach Dunga describes them as a very difficult opponent. He says they are a solid team with technical quality and their style of soccer is very similar to South American football.

Brazil is one of four South American teams to reach the final eight.

The five-time World Cup champions will be without midfielder Elano, who scored in each of Brazil's first two matches. He has been ruled out of the game against the Netherlands after bruising a bone in his right ankle during a victory over Ivory Coast. But, the Brazilians have so much talent and depth that Elano's absence is not expected to have much impact. They have won three matches and drawn with Portugal, and are coming off a convincing three-nil victory over South American rival Chile.

The winner of the Brazil-Netherlands match will face either Ghana or Uruguay in the semifinals. Those teams meet in Friday's second quarterfinal at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

Uruguay, which lifted the World Cup trophy in 1950 and at the inaugural tournament in 1930, is aiming for its first World Cup semifinal appearance in 40 years. "The Black Stars" of Ghana, meanwhile, are bidding to make history for Africa. No African team has ever reached the World Cup semifinals.

Ghana's Serbian coach, Milovan Rajevac, says the prospect of becoming the first African team to reach the final four will motivate his squad. And Asamoah Gyan, who has a team-leading three World Cup goals for Ghana in South Africa, says "The Black Stars" are delighted to be representing Africa at this stage.

"We are so happy for this qualification because it is so important for we Ghanaians and the whole of Africa," said Gyan. "We qualified for the 1/16th [Round of 16], that was four years ago in Germany. And this time, we were able to qualify to the quarterfinals. So, I think it is a big achievement for the Black Stars."

Another member of "The Black Stars," midfielder Sulley Muntari, says Ghana has much respect for Uruguay.

"They are a very good side - a very, very, very good side. So, we are not going to underrate them. We are just going in to play our football and try our best to win," said Muntari.

Uruguay features top strikers Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan, who was born into a family of footballers. His father, Pablo, played for Uruguay at both the 1966 World Cup in England and the 1974 World Cup in Germany. Ghana coach Rajevac describes Forlan as a fine player and his team will need to beware of Uruguay's attacking threat.

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