Ghana know they have complete control of their destiny as they face Uruguay in their final group game on Friday, a rematch of their 2010 quarterfinal meeting in South Africa.
The South Americans won that game in a controversial fashion, and Ghana will be hoping to exact revenge by eliminating Uruguay in Qatar. Ghana need a win or even a draw to advance to the knockout stage, whereas Uruguay must beat Ghana and hope South Korea lose to Portugal.
Ghana would have become the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals if not for Luis Suarez’s handball. In a tense game in Johannesburg, Ghana took the lead on the stroke of halftime thanks to Sulley Muntari’s wonder strike from long range, but Uruguay equalised in the second half thanks to captain Diego Forlan’s well-struck free kick that beat Richard Kingson.
Then, in the final minute of extra-time, one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history occurred when Luis Suarez blocked a goalbound header with his hand on the line, denying Ghana a late victory that would have advanced the West Africans to the semi-finals.
Portuguese referee Olegário Benquerença awarded a penalty and sent Suarez off. Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan, however, missed the penalty kick, and the Black Stars went on to lose in the penalty shootout.
The former Barcelona man said he was not to blame for Ghana’s failure to qualify, in a pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“The first time, I don’t apologize about that. I take the handball – but the Ghana player misses a penalty, not me. Maybe I apologize if I injure a player but in this situation, I take a red card, the ref says penalty, it’s not my fault,”
While many regard Friday’s match as a repeat or revenge, the ideal jackpot at stake is a round of 16 spot. Ghana got back on track with a win over South Korea after losing their opener to Portugal. The Black Stars relied on Mohammed Kudus’ masterclass to overpower the Asian Tigers who roared until the final whistle.
Uruguay, on the other hand, haven’t scored in Qatar, drawing 0-0 with South Korea before falling to a 2-0 defeat to Portugal thanks to Bruno Fernandez’s brace. Diego Alonso’s men must win to have a chance of qualifying, while a draw may suffice for Ghana depending on the outcome of the other group H match.
Luis Suarez is again optimistic his side will outclass Ghana to earn qualification.
“Ghana is a good team but we know them. We have beaten them before and we know how to beat them again.”
Coach Otto Addo is well aware of the emotions surrounding this game, but insists that the team’s only primary objective is to advance to the next round.
“For me, it’s a normal game and we want to qualify for the next stage. What happened in 2010 is very sad but we can’t change it so we are looking forward to and we want to win this game.”
Ghana have conceded in each of their last nine World Cup games and would enhance their chance of qualifying if they succeed in ending the run. Uruguay are also yet to score in the ongoing tournament.
FORM GUIDE (LAST FIVE MATCHES)
Ghana have lost to Brazil and Portugal in their last five matches. They have won the other three matches and have scored in four of their five matches. Uruguay have also lost to Iran and Portugal in their last five matches.
28 November 2022 South Korea 2-3 Ghana 2022 World Cup Group H
24 November 2022 Portugal 3-2 Ghana 2022 World Cup Group H
17 November 2022 Ghana 2–0 Switzerland Friendly
27 September 2022 Nicaragua 0–1 Ghana Friendly
23 September 2022 Brazil 3–0 Ghana Friendly
28 November 2022 Portugal 2-0 Uruguay 2022 World Cup Group H
24 November 2022 Uruguay 0-0 South Korea 2022 World Cup Group H
27 September 2022 Canada 0–2 Uruguay Friendly
23 September 2022 Iran 1–0 Uruguay Friendly
11 June 2022 Uruguay 5–0 Panama Friendly
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the second meeting between the two countries.
02 Jul 2010 Uruguay 1-1 Ghana FIFA World Cup
There are no injury concerns for Otto Addo’s side and previous starters may continue against Uruguay with in-form Kudus Mohammed and Andre Ayew playing behind Inaki Williams. Jordan Ayew was a live wire in the match against South Korea and could maintain his place in the team.
(4-2-3-1): Ati-Zigi; Lamptey, Amartey, Salisu, Mensah; Partey, Samed; Kudus, A Ayew, J Ayew; Williams
Barcelona player Ronald Araujo may be available only in the knockout stages if Uruguay advances as he recovers from an adductor injury.
(3-5-2): Rochet; Gimenez, Godin, Coates; Varela, Valverde, Bentancur, Vecino, Olivera; Nunez, Cavani