Africa orphaned as Ghana are elbowed out

suarez_robbed_ghanaJOHANNESBURG Uruguay seem to have developed a knack of breaking Africas hearts. The La Celeste take on Holland in tonights 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-final match at Cape Towns Green Point stadium knowing that they must probably be the most hated team in the host continent at the moment.

Flashback to Loftus Versfeld stadium, Pretoria on June 16 and the clinical manner in which the South Americans took apart hosts South Africa in that 3-0 win, which literally saw Bafana Bafana crash out in the first round, comes sliding back into your mind.

However, it is the unorthodox way they used to elbow Ghana out of the World Cup in the quarterfinal stage Friday night, which will not only remain engraved in most Africans minds, but also raise hate against the South Americans as well.

Since the beginning of the tournament, the Uruguayans have relied on the potency of their attack, which is led by the telepathic combination of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez and again Ghana, things did not change.

Forlan, the Atletico Madrid man who is also one of the most feared strikers in the Spanish La Liga, curled home a free kick in the 55th minute, which cancelled a first half beauty from Ghanas Sulley Muntari and drew his team level.

The two sides could not be separated in regulation and the game went into extra time, where the Black Stars were a better of the two sides, but failed to find the target from most of the chances they created.

Uruguay come from South America, where they have equally ruthless sides like five-time world champions Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay for regular competition and have seemingly perfected the art of winning.

In that part of the world, unlike in Africa, soccer means life and it is commonplace that if you cannot notch a win fairly, crook is there to be used. With Forlan, wearing the captains armband after an early injury to regular skipper Diego Lugano, having done his part in scoring the free kick, it was Suarez who remained in arrears and he fully settled his debt in the last minute of regulation time.

Ghana, still as dominant in the dying minutes as they had been for the better part of the game, had chances on the goal-line that saw the ball cleared, but Suarez’s second defence of the goal-line was with his hands.

The Ajax Amsterdam striker got a straight red card for the offence, while Ghana earned a penalty, but needless to say, his whole team have literally been red-carded had he allowed Dominic Adiyiahs header to sail into the net. So, it was either the team or him and Suarez settled for the latter.

It should have been curtains for Uruguay at that point, but Asamoah Gyan, who had driven the Black Stars to the quarterfinals with two penalty conversions in the group stages and blasted in the winner in injury time for their second round win over the United States of America, became the man to take his team out.

African pressure drifted from the whole Ghana squad to rest on the shoulders of Gyan as he faced Fernando Muslera, in Uruguays goal. With the goalkeeper sprawling on the ground, Gyan hit the bar with his penalty kick, the ball flicking over and with it Africas hopes.

The referee immediately blew the whistle that sent the two teams into a penalty shootout, where Ghanas captain John Mensah and Adiyiahs tame efforts were saved by Muslera.

Uruguays 75th minute substitute, Sebastin Abreu, converted a cheeky flick from Uruguays last spot kick, which sent the South Americans through to face the Netherlands, themselves shock 2-1 winners over Brazil in an earlier match, while Africa wept at THAT missed penalty by Gyan.

Uruguay coach, Oscar Tabarez saw no moral offence as what Suarez did, telling the media after the game that the fact that the striker was red-carded was enough punishment.

“The player was red-carded and saying we cheated Ghana out of victory that is harsh. It was not cheating; I really don’t like that word,” said Tabarez.

“It was instinctive and he was booked. What do you want? The referee red-carded him is Suarez also to blame for Ghana missing that penalty? We don’t look for excuses and if we lose we look for reasons why we lost and not an excuse. There were consequences for what Suarez did,” he said.

Suarez will be missing in tonights clash, but Forlan will be there to carry on with the job of seeing his team through to the semi-final.

Post published in: Football

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