Ghana parties as win lifts African spirits

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KETA - Ghanaians took to the streets to celebrate a 2-1 World Cup victory over the United States on Saturday that salvaged African pride after a dismal showing by the continent's teams in the tournament so far.

In the town of Keta 300 km (200 miles) east of the capital Ghana, taxi drivers halved their fares for the night and drinks flowed as locals savoured the prospect of a quarter-final game that matches the best World Cup showing ever by an African side.

"It's drinks on me this evening to bid farewell to America," 42-year-old farmer Klu Borboley said in a pub after blaring a yellow vuvuzela and inviting inside a group of youths who had been watching the game from the street through the window.

"Ghana has lifted dampened hearts," Borboley said of a win after extra time that he said "redeemed" Africa's image in the World Cup after early exits from host South Africa and Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Algeria and Cameroon.

Josephine Manavi, 32, confessed she was not a keen soccer fan but was delighted with the victory.

"My husband enjoys the game ... and when he's happy there is great joy at home," she said at the local market, which turned into a carnival after Ghana's early first goal as storeholders dressed in national colours blew ear-splitting whistles.

In an ironic dig at the United States, youths carried an effigy draped in U.S. colours while a dozen women dressed in black "wailed" behind them in a ceremonial burial of America.

The leader of a minicab syndicate in the town declared that all local fares would be halved for the night.

"It is a significant victory and we want our passengers to feel it ... they must enjoy it," 56-year old Gawuga Amewono said.

Back in Accra - the African capital which U.S. President Barack Obama last year chose for his first visit to the continent since coming to power - the country's media were already sharpening their pens for the editorials ahead.

"Yes we can! Ghana dumps U.S. for historic quarter-final" ran the website of leading radio Joy FM in a jab at Obama's election slogan.

Ghana next play Uruguay on Friday in Soccer City in Johannesburg. No African team has reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. Cameroon and Senegal have previously reached the last eight in 1990 and 2002 respectively.

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