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Uruguay v Ghana – Redemption

Ghana takes on Uruguay at the Al-Janoub Stadium on Friday with a win securing them a place in the Qatar 2022 World Cup knockout stages, but this game means a whole lot more than that for the Black Stars.

This is a rematch of the South Africa 2010 knockout fixture where Luis Suarez handled the ball in the final seconds, receiving a sending off, but after a missed penalty and then a penalty shoot-out loss, Uruguay progressed in one of football’s greatest ever villain stories.

A breath-taking Sulley Muntari strike gave the last African side in South Africa one last glimmer of World Cup glory, but his stunning 40-yard strike was cancelled out by an equally exquisite Diego Forlan free-kick, scored by a player who managed to master the Jabulani in 2010.

The game was a tale of two terrific goals, but antics of former Liverpool and Barcelona striker Luis Suarez cast a dark shadow over the fixture for Ghana fans.

The striker is known as one of the best goal scorers in history, but his defensive attributes were highlighted in this game after he handled the ball – like a goalkeeper – denying Ghana a last-minute winner.

A penalty was awarded, and Suarez received a red card, but it was probably all worth it, as he ran down the tunnel in celebration as the resulting penalty rattled the crossbar.

The game went down to the wire, and Uruguay won the penalty shoot-out after 120 minutes, and Suarez’s actions somehow seemed worth it.

Friday is Ghana’s chance to rewrite history and to close the book after 12 years. If they are victorious tomorrow, Uruguay go home.

Portugal have already guaranteed themselves a place in the knockouts, but it is Ghana who have shown themselves most worthy of second spot so far in the group. They lost narrowly 3-2 to Portugal and overturned South Korea 3-2 as well.

Uruguay have looked off the pace so far in Qatar, with the South Americans drawing 0-0 to South Korea and losing 2-0 to Portugal.

La Celeste are in 4th place heading into the final fixture of Group H but haven’t made a group stage exit from the World Cup in 20 years, so Diego Alonso’s side will be feeling the pressure.

If Uruguay want to go through, they also rely on Portugal beating South Korea. This is expected, but in a World Cup full of upsets, and Portugal potentially rotating, this could be looking in doubt. Just yesterday we saw Deschamps’s France defeated by underdogs Tunisia.

They also rely on their strike force, as this is a must-win game. Ageing striker Luis Suarez will be looking to haunt the Black Stars once again, alongside 35-year-old Edinson Cavani and youthful Darwin Nunez of Liverpool.

Ghana’s attack will be hoping to go stride for stride with Uruguay’s, as they have a breakout star of their own. Mohammed Kudus of Ajax is having a tournament to remember, and the sharp and fast attacker will be joined by brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew and Inaki Williams.

With the likes of Godin, Gimenez, Suarez and Cavani all ageing, many believe that Uruguay won’t be as strong as this is almost certainly their last World Cup. Some argue that they have a wealth of talent coming through that is just as strong with Araujo, Valverde, Bentancur, Pellestri, Gomez and Nunez.

Uruguay will be without Barcelona centre back Ronald Araujo who is out with a hip injury. The centre-back will go his third successive game without selection due to his injury and he was hoping to be back for the knockout rounds, should Uruguay make it there.

Gideon Mensah is the only doubt for Ghana, as he came off after 88 minutes against South Korea. It is rumoured that he only suffered from cramp and he is highly likely to start in Ghana’s final Group H fixture.

The odds will be stacked against Ghana in this one due to Uruguay’s strong squad on paper, but with new hero Kudus and 2010 still in recent history, could the Black Stars find that extra bit of quality to knock Le Celeste out?


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