Ghana decided to realize revenge on Uruguay for Suarez handball

There’s a spot within the spherical of 16 of the World Cup up for grabs when Ghana and Uruguay play in Al Wakrah on Friday however, for Africa’s Black Stars, there’s much more at stake.

It’s 12 years since their solely different assembly, the quarterfinal of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez deliberately stopped Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound header with his hands within the closing minute of additional time. It triggered a sequence of occasions that ended with Ghana exiting the event in probably the most dramatic trend and denied Africa its first World Cup semifinalists.

It’s a second that also stings a lot that Ghana FA president Kurt Okraku mentioned when the draw was made for Qatar: “It will be revenge time.”

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For some Ghana followers, even knocking out Uruguay on Friday is not going to be sufficient to erase the reminiscence of Johannesburg.

Suarez’s actions ended Ghana’s involvement on the World Cup but additionally prevented a second of historical past for African soccer, which has nonetheless had solely three groups (Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana themselves in 2010) attain a quarterfinal, not to mention go any additional.

But it wasn’t simply Suarez’s blatant save on the goal-line which angered a whole continent.

Suarez watched the ensuing penalty from the mouth of the tunnel after Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca had proven a pink card.

Asamoah Gyan smacked the ball off the crossbar and cameras caught Suarez celebrating wildly.

The sport, which completed 1-1, was finally determined by a penalty shootout, received 4-2 by Uruguay. Unrepentant afterwards, Suarez branded his intervention “the hand of god” — a nod to Diego Maradona’s handball aim for Argentina in opposition to England in 1986.

“Suarez cheated us,” former Ghana defender John Paintsil, who performed that night time, advised ESPN.

“I’ll always remember what he did, which is not part of the rules of football. We were cheated by him. Using both hands on the line and doing it deliberately to stop us going to the semifinal, I would say Suarez wasn’t a professional. He cheated.”

Suarez, now 35, is a part of the Uruguay squad in Qatar and will line up in opposition to the nation the place he is been thought-about a villain for greater than a decade.

“It’s payback,” Ghana fan Joseph Dadson advised ESPN. “When the draw was made everyone in Ghana thought: ‘Finally a chance for revenge.’

“It was the primary time Africa had hosted a World Cup and it was the primary time an African group was going to go to a semifinal and it did not occur and it was all due to Suarez. He stole it from us.

“It was devastating, and not just for Ghana but the whole of Africa. At that moment, the whole of Africa was behind Ghana and the defeat and how it happened was too much. It was devastating.”

Joseph has made the 6,000-mile (9,650km) journey from Ghana to Doha to assist his group through the group stage. He will keep longer if Suarez is vanquished on Friday.

“It’s a very big game,” he added. “We were the better team in 2010 and it’s time to finally prove it.”

Whether it is Ghana or not, Paintsil is hopeful 2022 is the yr an African group breaks into the final 4 of a World Cup.

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal have already booked their place within the spherical of 16 — they play England on Sunday — are Ghana are certain to observe if they will beat Uruguay.

As a continent on soccer’s largest stage, Africa are nonetheless taking part in catch-up with counterparts in Europe and South America as a result of, up till France ’98, they had been solely assured three qualifiers, the place now it is 5. In 2026, when the World Cup is expanded to 48 nations, Africa shall be assured 9 individuals.

Perhaps extra importantly, African gamers are becoming a member of Europe’s prime golf equipment with growing regularity and in October, Senegal’s Sadio Mane, as soon as of Liverpool and now taking part in for Bayern Munich, was voted because the world’s second-best participant.

“African countries can compete with the best in the world and the sky’s the limit,” mentioned Paintsil, who had spells at West Ham United, Fulham and Leicester City.

Progress can be being made on the touchline and for the primary time, every African nation on the World Cup is being managed by an African coach. Ghana are led by 47-year-old Otto Addo, who has teaching expertise with Borussia Dortmund, the place he was as soon as a participant.

“If you look at all the big European teams, there are African players there and we have African coaches here,” Joseph mentioned. “African success is just around the corner.”

Ghana will hope that beating Uruguay might be the platform for one more memorable marketing campaign however when Paintsil sits down to look at the sport, there’ll nonetheless be a nagging feeling of what might need been. It was Paintsil’s free kick into the penalty space which prompted the chaos on the finish of the conflict in 2010 and it is not simply forgotten.

“I’ve got nothing against Suarez, he did what he did for his country,” he mentioned. “Mistakes are part of human beings but even after 12 years, I’m still disappointed with what he did.

“It was an enormous factor he did for the entire of Africa, not simply Ghana. Ghana would have been the primary African nation to be in a semifinal however the best way we had been going, we had been going straight to the ultimate and successful the trophy as a result of we had a lot perception.

“We felt that the whole world was behind us, not just Africa. It was a huge disappointment.”

Paintsil insists that regardless of Ghana’s historical past with Suarez, the Uruguayan would nonetheless be welcome within the nation if he ever determined to pay a go to.

Joseph, nevertheless, shouldn’t be so certain.

Could he ever forgive Suarez? “We’ll see on Friday,” Joseph laughed.

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