Let’s set the scene, it’s 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Ghana is playing Uruguay in the FIFA World Cup quarter-final. One team a two-time World Cup winner, who after years in the wilderness is looking to reestablish itself as a world power…The other was in the quarterfinals for the first time ever and looking to make history for an entire continent, as no African wise had ever made a World Cup semi-final before. The general consensus at the time was that these were two likable teams, Uruguay played good football in 2010 scoring many great goals along the way led by Diego Forlan, Diego Godin, and Luis Suarez, Ghana had also lit up the tournament, with John Mensah, Sulley Muntari, and Asamoah Gyan.
The match was a fairly normal game, Ghana opened the scoring through a long-range Sulley Muntari strike just before half-time, which was then canceled out in the fifty-fifth minute by a Diego Forlan free kick. The scoring remained 1-1, and the match went to extra time. Still a fairly normal game at this point, the match would then have its defining moment right at the end of extra time.
Ghana won a feeekick, and John Paintsil’s delivery caused chaos in the Uruguay box before eventually falling to the head of Stephen Appiah, with his goal bound header looking set to give the Ghanaians a famous win, Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez batted the ball away with his hand, preventing a goal but conceding a penalty and a red card at the same time, causing him to leave the pitch in tears. Ghanaian talisman Assmoah Gyan couldn’t convert however, crashing the ball off the bar, a which sent the game to penalties, and sparked scenes of joy from Suarez. Suarez went from being distraught in tears to wildly celebrating on the sideline, an image that still angers many Ghanaians.
So the game finished 1-1, and a penalty shootout would be needed to separate the two sides at this point, any neutrals who were on the fence were already left feeling heartbroken for Ghana. Although Assmoah Gyan scored Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout, there was a sense of inevitability about the penalty shootout. John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah weren’t able to convert from the spot for Ghana, so when Sebastián Abreu sent a panenka penalty into the back of the net, it was all over. Uruguay had eliminated Ghana in the most heartbreaking fashion possible, not only crushing the soul of Ghanaians that day but also of Africans in general who wanted to see an African side reach a semi-final on African soil.
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Luis Suarez was public enemy number one, it wasn’t just that his illegal intervention stopped a certain goal, it was the way he behaved when Gyan missed that irked people the most. Suarez has acknowledged that he is public enemy number one in Ghana, and it’s easy to understand why. Ghana has yet to get back to a quart final, going out at the group stage in 2014 and failing to even make the World Cup in 2018. But in early 2022, Ghana defeated Nigeria in a World Cup playoff to reach the World Cup again and as fate would have it, they were drawn into a group featuring Portugal, South Korea, and the old enemy, Luis Suarez, and Uruguay.
Ghana played admirably against Portugal, scoring twice in a 3-2 defeat that barring a highly controversial penalty could’ve easily led to a point. Ghana then faced a crucial game against South Korea, and they raced into an early 2-0 lead through Mohammed Salisu and Mohammed Kudus. They were however pegged back in the second half through two quick-fire Korea goals, but a smart finish from Kudus sealed a famous win for Ghana, their first World Cup win since their 2010 last-sixteen tie vs the USA. Meanwhile, Uruguay could only tie 0-“ with South Korea, and after losing 2-0 to Portugal, it means that La Celeste now finds themselves needing to best Ghana to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Quite frankly, this is the dream situation for Ghana, Suarez is thirty-five, this will be his last World Cup and of all the teams, they are the ones that have the chance to end his World Cup career, just like how he played a huge part in ending their magical run in 2010. This could potentially be a very emotionally charged game for Ghana who have spent twelve years waiting for revenge. It is key for them that play the occasion on the day, not play the history. This is still a highly talented Uruguay side who still has ambitions to go on a deep run in the competition. The whole world is going to be watching the highly anticipated rematch between these two, and if you ask them who do they wanna see win, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t say Ghana.
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