The revenge that never was! …as Uruguay, Ghana bow out of World Cup

Ghana’s campaign at the Qatar 2022 World Cup yesterday ended in tears and anguish as the Black Stars were beaten 2-0 by Uruguay in their last Group H game at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah.

Skipper Andre DedeAyew squandered a crucial penalty that could have altered the tempo of the Stars’ game and were punished dearly for it.

In spite of the massive victory, the Luis Suarez-led South Americans also failed to progress to the Round of 16 stage, following South Korea’s stunning 2-1 win over table-toppers Portugal that placed them in second position – and edged out the Uruguayans on superior goals.

Thousands of Ghanaians who trooped to the stadium to witness what they thought was going to be revenge, were left desolate, distraught and battered as they filed away sorrowfully.

Twelve years ago in South Africa, Suarez handballed a goal-bound goal seconds of the evening and was sent off, only for Ghana to miss the ensuing penalty; then lose a heart-rending shootout. That deprived them of becoming the first African team in history to reach a World Cup semi-final.

The crowd expected nothing but revenge from the Ghanaians, but they let the nation down.

As hugely predicted, the two-time world champions (1930, 1950) roared off in an aggressive fashion, wanting quickly to take advantage of the Stars’ dawdling start in this campaign.

Probably, they were eager to prove to the world they can beat Ghana fairly, too – and not through the cruel manner Luis Suarez did in that dramatic quarter-final clash at the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

On the eve of the match, Suarez had insisted at a press conference that he was not to blame for Ghana’s woes on that dramatic night in South Africa – and would not apologise for the incident. Such comments were part of a grand, elaborate mind-game meant to unsettle the Ghanaian camp.

It that was supposed to be a mind game on Ghana, then it worked perfectly as Suarez started for Uruguay for the first time in the tournament; his presence making the Ghanaian backline creaky, unstable and full of nerves.

Indeed, yesterday, Uruguay knew the only chance of reaching the last-16 was with victory. And, they dashed for it.

Ghana had leaked in five goals in their games against Portugal (2-3) and South Korea (3-2). It was a disturbing bother Coach Otto Addo had promised to deal with. Last night, it appeared nothing had been done about it as Mohammed Salisu and Daniel Amartey left gaps that were exploited.

Unlike their sloppy starts, the Stars got off fiercely and were presented with a golden opportunity to shoot ahead when they were awarded a spot-kick. Jordan Ayew’s right-footed shot from a fine move was spilled by goalkeeper Sergio Rochett with the ball falling to Mohammed Kudus. The Ghanaian midfielder chipped the ball over the goalie who clipped him in the area for a penalty.

Uncharacteristically of him, Andre Ayew blew off the opportunity as goalkeeper dived to his left to save his side from a 21st minute lead.

It was the second penalty miss by a Ghanaian against Uruguay in regulation time, the first being AsamoahGyan 12 years ago at the South Africa World Cup.

The Ghana game slumped heavily after that blown-off opportunity and the South Americans would take advantage to run the Stars rugged, operating mostly from both wings.

Uruguay struck first blood in the 26th minute through Giogian de Arrascaeta who headed home Darwian Nunez cross from the right – after the leaking Ghana backline amazingly failed to deal with it.

The goal spurred on the South Americans as they poured forward for the second which they got six minutes later after Nunez found Suarez who located Arrascaeta to score his second on the night – leaving Lawrence Ati-Zigi with no chance.

Ghana resumed the second half full of piss and vinegar, but nothing came out of it as the two sides missed some gilt-edged opportunities that ensured they were bundled out of the campaign.

It was the Stars successive first round exit, after Brazil 2014.


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