Ghana Lose Dramatic Quarter Final, But Win A New Army of Fans

Expectations have not always been met at this World Cup and yesterdays two semi-finals were a perfect example of this.

The match-up of Holland and Brazil has in the past offered games of great excitement and showcased some of the most exciting attacking football that South America and Europe has to offer, but Friday’s afternoon match was a great disappointment, as at best it was an intriguing and at times bad tempered game of chess.

Neither team showed any great desire to attack and the free-flowing total football associated with both countries was in short supply.

The second quarter-final between Ghana and Uruguay promised little in the way of excitement, as the two teams nervously attempted to go beyond the expectations of many and reach the last four of the competition, however what was delivered instead was a game of such monumental excitement that is unparalleled in my memory of World Cup football.

The match had more twists and turns than a complicated Hitchcock thriller when he was in his double crossing pomp.

Just when it appeared to be obvious who was going to win, the rug was pulled out from underneath the potential winners and the audience was no closer to having a sense who would be the victor.

In their previous matches in the World Cup, Ghana had been keen purveyors of the let’s-hope-we-get-a-penalty-to-win-it tactic and had been very defensively minded, particularly in their nervy and largely boring second round game with USA.

Seemingly buoyed though by the possibility of a semi-final clash with Holland, Ghana were transformed into a team who played with belief and a great desire that pegged their opponents in their own half for large periods of the game, most notably the second half of extra-time.

In the absence of England from the tournament, the North London pub which I watched the game in became honorary black West African, as every person in the pub lent their support to the plucky Black Stars.

Charmed by their passion and spirit and a video posted on YouTube of the team dancing to what appeared to be an African version of Lulu’s Shout, the pub full of predominantly English fans cheered on their adopted team as if they were their own.

Never has there been an extra-time filled with such excitement and drama, which deserved to go the way of Ghana, but their unfortunate shoot-out exit will be familiar to every England fan.

Ghana dominated the last half an hour of play and attacked their stunned opponents at every opportunity and fully deserved the victory, but as every Englishman knows that doesn’t guarantee a victory.

With the last attack of the game Dominic Adiyiah’s header was deliberately punched clear of goal by Luis Suarez as he cynically denied Ghana a last gasp winner.

Having previously scored two penalties in the competition Asamoah Gyan was charged with the task of putting Ghana into the last four with the last kick of the game, but unbelievably he missed, as he fired his penalty against the bar and into the crowd and Uruguay were offered an unexpected reprieve in the form of a shoot-out.

Gyan showed tremendous courage to step-up and confidently score Ghana’s first penalty, but misses from John Mensah and Adiyiah allowed Sebsatian Abreu’s cooly-taken penalty to dramatically win it for Uruguay and deny Africa their first ever representative in the semi-final of a World Cup.

Suarez was lauded as a hero by the Uruguayan players for his supposedly brave and selfless clearance that gave his side a crucial reprieve and Ghana were left to contemplate what might have been.

Their underdog spirit and involvement in one the most engaging World Cup matches of all time will live long in the memory though.

Tags: Ghana, World Cup 2010

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