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Jules Valentin Praises the U.S. Effort vs. Italy.

Welcome to my little section of – where I get to say whatever I feel like saying. Jules here again, thanks for coming and I hope that you enjoy!

We’re still alive! And I’ve never been more proud to be a U.S. Soccer fan. Our boys fought through one of the toughest games in recent World Cup history and got a crucial point against the Italians. Not only are we still alive, but we have a strong chance of going through to the next round. For all of you out there who are not mathematically or logically talented like myself, if we beat Ghana and Italy beats the Czech Republic, we will go through to the next round with four points! Now that’s something to cheer about…

It’s kind funny how you can hate Italy for cheap shots and paying off referees one second and be the biggest Italian soccer fan a second later. I guess that’s the nature of the game. Go Azzurri –beat those boy-band-singing, hockey-goon-turned-soccer-player, names-I-can’t-pronounce Czechs!

However, for today’s segment, I’m going to look to our momentous matchup with a good Ghanaian team on Thursday at 9:55 a.m. on ESPN. Coach Arena and his staff is handling the breakdown of the Ghanaian football team, but I've got an inside look at Ghana itself – for kind of an FYI session in today’s article.

Ghana was a British colony until 1957 and was originally named the Gold Coast before changing its name to the Republic of Ghana. Ghana is located in western Africa, in between fellow World Cup rookies Ivory Coast and Togo. Its population is 22,409,572. On the world scale such a number is not particularly astounding, but considering that Ghana is approximately the size of the state Oregon, I think it’s pretty amazing. That’s essentially the entire state of Texas packing up their ranches and moving out west to Oregon. Its capital is Accra – not the classy cars, but the city. Oh wait, that’s Accura (bad joke).

Okay, enough of the basic info that you can Google and find on the CIA World Fact Book (insert citation here). I also found some cool stuff that you might not know about Ghana and the team we will play tomorrow.

Ghana’s national team is nicknamed “The Black Stars.” There are also some pretty cool links between Ghana and the MNT that have come to my attention – besides Freddy Adu, that is. Two of Ghana’s star players, Michael Essien and Razak Pimpong (not to be confused with “ping-pong”), were members of Ghana’s 1999 Under-17 World Championship team in New Zealand. That Ghanaian team beat the U.S. U-17s 2-0 in the third place game. Our U-17 team that year had a youthful, blonde Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, and Bobby Convey – four men who will be an integral part of our big test on Thursday. It’s also pretty cool to note that at the time, Chelsea star Essien and midfield mastermind was a central defender and actually missed that third place game due to a card accumulation. The U.S. and Ghana will clash again on Thursday and even with Essien on the pitch the result will be different this time.

Well kids, that’s really all that I’ve got on Ghana besides its “Land Use” facts: 17.54% of its land is arable land, 9.22% is permanent crops, and 73.24% is “other” (insert CIA citation here) but that’s not really interesting. So, I will let you go now and tell you to get excited for the game tomorrow. Skip work, cut class, do whatever you have to do to watch the game and watch our boys battle their way into the Round of 16. Oh yeah, and cheer for Italy! Take care and I’ll see you next time. Go USA!!