GHANA is the Black Star and last hope in the Africa corps of great football playing nations lead by World Cup 2010 host South Africa and Group of 16 contenders Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

Asamoah Gyan was a standout in a coterie of sensational Black Stars beating the United States in the knockout stage and was just as passionate but not as lucky against two-time champion Uruguay in the quarterfinals.

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We thought all along that Africa is merely a nation of conga beat and big beast rhinos.

South Africa and Ghana for that matter had proven otherwise in the all-nation football congregation and the multi-racial patrons in attendance from Johannesburg to Pretoria and millions more glued up to their tv sets including such reclusive nation as the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea.

In Asian football, low-ranking Philippines rarely had the chance to meet DPR Korea but this country does have the chance of facing brave Filipinos in the fields of war during the successful defense of South Korea in the infamous Korean War of the 50s through the Philippine Expeditionary Forces To Korea (Peftok).

Like Pau Gasol of the world champion armada of basketball conquistadores, football's David Villa also hails from Spain and owns one of the highest scoring output at four goals in the group stages, the latest of which was the goal from Xabi Alonso's back inside the goalkeeper's area.

Villa's lone goal at 62 minutes sent home fellow conquistadores Pepe and Pedro Mendes of Portugal and arrange for the football mucho dineros a showdown against Paraguay in the semifinals.

He is already a winner with a new 35-M pounds contract in Barcelona awaiting the small but spirited Spanish striker.

During his time, Pele was regarded as the highest-paid athlete. That was decades ago when Tiger Woods and Manny Pacquiao were still in the loins of their papa.

Meanwhile, Ghana's tormentor Uruguay goes to the penultimate semifinal stage this week versus Netherlands, the country that many Davao football fans have favored to take the finals slot against another Davao favorite Germany, Argentina or Spain now that Brazil had fallen prey against the Dutch Orange.

One such fan is this Spanish-sounding name Manuel Cris Arrieta, a pillar of DFA football like Bobot Pingoy. Buboy, as he is fondly called by Davao footballers, feels the same jubilation as the Dutch playmakers saying this is their first semifinals appearance in three decades.

Brazil is startling in their traditional yellow and green jersy but Netherlands was a stunning orange in the sensational upset, come-from-behind win versus 5-time champion and the highly favored Brazilians of the dominant four South Americans, three Europeans (Germany, Spain and Netherlands) and Ghana, the lone African entry in the quarterfinals.

Against the United States of America, one of the most improved teams in football, Ghana played with gusto, 2-1, in extra time.

Frankly, my sympathy is with Ghana. A lowly and smart nation beating countries much bigger than they, is giving us hope, small and lowly Pinoys as we are like Ghana.

Cape Town Beat: Football for hope. - Fifa