One of the hopes of making the 2010 World Cup a successful one for the African continent was that one of its six nations participating would make a deep run.
Ghana can put itself in prime position for such an opportunity Saturday at Rustenburg, where it plays an Australia squad desperate to regroup to give itself any chance of advancing to the knockout round.
The hopes of the Black Stars dimmed prior to the tournament when they learned injured midfield star Michael Essien would not be able to play due to injury. Yet Ghana proved it will not be an easy out in Group D, defeating Serbia 1-0 on Sunday on a penalty kick by Asamoah Gyan in the 84th minute.
The Black Stars were awarded the penalty kick after Zdravko Kuzmanovic handled the ball in the penalty area, and Gyan converted from the 12-yard spot with a shot high to the left to give the African continent its first victory of this World Cup.
"That's what you're seeing," Ghana midfielder Stephen Appiah said. "This is the first time the World Cup is held in Africa, and all Africa is united."
One of the key contributors to Ghana's victory was midfielder Andrew Ayew, who proved to be a capable replacement for Essien and likely will be in the starting lineup again. If Ayew falters, Appiah - a second-half substitute Sunday - and Shelley Muntari are available for coach Milovan Rajevac.
While Ghana did reach the round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup, only two African countries have advanced to the quarterfinals - Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.
Australia, meanwhile, had the worst opening-match performance of the 32 countries at the World Cup, absorbing a 4-0 thrashing by three-time champion Germany on Sunday. Outclassed at every turn, the Socceroos had their midfield and defense repeatedly exposed as Germany scored twice in each half.
"It was not an easy game for us," coach Pim Verbeek said. "We tried to make it very difficult for them and use our speed, but we didn't have the ball in the first 20 minutes."
The situation is dire for Australia, which not only has to overcome its minus-4 goal differential but also must make do without star forward Tim Cahill for this match. The Everton striker was ejected after a straight red card in the 56th minute for a late tackle on Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Verbeek likely will turn to veteran Harry Kewell to fill Cahill's spot at forward, and he also may add Marco Bresciano as a reserved striker to support Kewell and spark the offense.
Defenders Lucas Neill and Craig Moore and midfielder Carl Valeri all picked up yellow cards in the loss, and a second caution in this match would force them to miss the group finale versus Serbia on Wednesday.
Ghana completes its group play schedule Wednesday against Germany.