Uruguay have dramatically crushed Africa’s World Cup dreams by sending Ghana out of the tournament via a penalty shoot out in an epic, rollercoaster of a game at Soccer City in yesterday evening’s Quarter Final between the two sides.
Uruguay, who had already dispatched South Africa in the group stage games, have once again broken African hearts by dumping everyone’s favourite underdogs out of the tournament. Ghanaians, Africans and neutrals all over the world will be utterly bereft but although it will be of little consolation to the losers, both teams should be tremendously proud of creating by far the best spectacle of the World Cup so far.
Much of the drama came from a breathtaking finale when Ghana were awarded a penalty right at the end of extra time for a clear hand ball in the goal mouth. With the backing of nearly everyone in the stadium and to a cacophony of Vuvzuelas, Ghana’s heroic goal threat, Gyan, tragically missed the penalty and the Ghanaian players had to face the shoot out feeling like they had already lost one. Gyan courageously stepped up to score his and Ghana’s first spot kick but misses from Mhensa and young substitute Appiah handed the shoot out and quarter final place, against Holland on Saturday night, to Uruguay.
That this game went all the way to penalties was startling considering the pace, energy and vigour with which each team pursued their opponent’s goal. Unlike the tentative affair that was Japan v Paraguay, both teams approached this occasion with the courage and freedom of the underdog and created a fantastic display of attacking, high-tempo football.
Ghana stuttered a bit in the early stages, perhaps suffering the weight of expectation on their less experienced shoulders but after their first shot on goal on the 20 minute mark it was ‘end to end’ stuff for the rest of the 120.
It was almost impossible to choose between the two sides and fittingly each scored very similar goals to leave the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes. A bobbling, swerving, viscous, missile of a shot from Montari put the Black Stars ahead right on the cusp of half time and then Diego Forlan stepped up to take a free kick in the 54th minute to equalise. His perfectly executed shot fooled the keeper and sought out the back of the net like a heat seeking torpedo.
After 120 minutes there had been chances galore; myriad free kicks; corners a plenty and crunching tackles flying in from all angles but in the end a smarter, slicker Uruguay, epitomised by Diego Forlan, just edged it over the eagerness, youth and romance of Ghana. It was a tremendous game to go out of the tournament on but Ghana will still be sick that it is Uruguay, and not Africa’s last hope, who get a shot at Brazil-beating Holland in the Quarter Final.
Uruguay win 4-2 on penalties
Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano Captain (Scotti, 38), Fucile, Victorino, Pereira, Perez, Arevalo Rios, Alvaro Fernandez (Lodeiro, 46), Cavani (Abreu, 76), Suarez, Forlan
Ghana: Kingson, Sarpei, Pantsil, John Mensah Captain, Inkoom (Appiah), Vorsah, Annan, Muntari (Adiya, 88), Boateng, Gyan, Asamoah