Ghana host Uruguay in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where Luis Suarez can once again face the Black Stars. Portugal and South Korea are also in Group H, but the mutual match against Uruguay will have some extra significance for Ghana.
The two nations have only met once, in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. After a 1-1 draw, Uruguay won 4-2 in penalty shootout.
That match offered one of the most dramatic endings in the history of the World Cup, with much controversy surrounding one of the turning points, with a then 23-year-old Suarez at the center of the matter.
Over a decade since the incident, it is still arousing passionate reaction and debate about sportsmanship and what could have been.
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Why Luis Suarez is a villain in Ghana
Ghana were on the verge of becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals, but an incident involving Suarez prevented them from reaching that goal.
After finishing second to Germany in Group D of the 2010 World Cup, Ghana beat the United States in the quarterfinals, 2-1 in extra time.
The ensuing quarter-final clash against Uruguay, which had topped Group A ahead of France, Mexico and host South Africa, seemed like a perfect opportunity for Ghana to write history on African soil.
And it grabbed the moment when Sulley Muntari brought the Black Stars ahead before the break. However, Diego Forlan managed to get hold of the rebound and tucked the ball into the empty net.
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Suarez handball vs Ghana
In the final phase of extra time, Ghana’s Steven Appiah shot on goal, and with the Uruguay goalkeeper’s shot, Suarez used his knee to block the ball on his own goal line. Dominic Adiyiah then headed the riposte on goal, with Suarez again making the block, but this time with both hands.
The deliberate Suarez handball resulted in an automatic red card for him and a penalty kick for Ghana. With a chance to win the match and avoid penalty shootout, Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar on his penalty attempt and Suarez celebrated the miss behind the benches.
The quarter-final went to penalty shootout, with Uruguay winning 4-2, prompting Suarez to later remark that he had saved the tournament. Ghanaian coach Milovan Rajevac instead described Suarez’s actions as an “injustice”.
“I think it was just instinct,” Suarez said as he reflected on the incident years later. “Every player would have done the same. Not just me … My first reaction was to use my hand. Some people have accused me of lacking sportsmanship, but I think it’s worse if a player suffers an injury when he’s stopped. by a bad tackle when he’s about to score. “
Suarez served a red card exclusion for the semi-final match against the Netherlands, and the Uruguayans were thrown out 3-2 in Cape Town. They also lost a possible third-place match to Germany.
Ghana’s World Cup history
The 2022 World Cup will be Ghana’s fourth entry in the men’s tournament, all coming since 2006. This 2010 edition still stands as its best performance at the tournament.
Ghana’s first participation came in Germany in 2006, and it proved to be successful as they moved up from Group E as number two after Italy.
The African team lost to the Italians, but a victory against the Czech Republic (goals by Gyan and Muntari) was followed by a dramatic victory against the United States in a win-take-all group final. A Stephen Appiah penalty proved the game’s winner in the 2-1 final.
The youngest team in the tournament then met Brazil in the round of 16 and lost 3-0 to a team with Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo.
The 2010 Ghana team was led by the prolific center forward Gyan, who had a talented cast of midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, Andre Ayew and then Inter Milan midfielder Muntari.
The Black Stars progressed from the group stage on goal difference thanks to a win over Serbia (late Gyan penalty) and a draw against Australia (another Gyan penalty change).
Gyan also had the winner of extra time against the United States in the quarterfinals, but he could not convert an extended penalty against Uruguay, which would have made the Black Stars make history by advancing to the semifinals.
It was a shorter World Cup adventure in Brazil as Ghana finished in last place in Group G.
It was the Group of Death, where they drew the final world champion Germany 2-2 and lost 2-1 to Portugal on the last match day on a Cristiano Ronaldo goal 10 minutes after playing time. The costly result proved the opening against the USA, which they lost 2-1, and cashed in a late winner just minutes after the equalizer.
After seeing its streak of World Cup participation interrupted in 2018 – it finished in third place after Egypt and Uganda in a qualifying group needed to win – Ghanaian men earned a return trip. The team qualified for Qatar 2022 at the expense of Nigeria and went on to tiebreaker for the away goals after an overall score of 1-1.
Ghana opens 2022 group-stage action against Portugal on November 24, before meeting South Korea four days later. The Black Stars then close out against Uruguay on December 2 in what could be a decisive match for both sides to decide the passage to the knockout rounds.