That moment of un-sportsmanship
* The Black Stars up against Ronaldo’s Portugal in tomorrow’s Group H
* Before meeting Korea Republic November 28 and Uruguay on December 2
* Ghanaians and Africans as a whole were also incensed and seething with fury against Suarez
* When he blocked Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound header with his hands to save what would have been the game winner
By Duncan Mlanjira
If it had not been for Paraguay’s Luis Suarez’s un-sportsmanship when blocked Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound header with his hands to save what would have been the game winner, the Black Stars could have qualified for the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup hosted in 2010 by South Africa.
And Ghana would also have made history to qualify for the semifinals in the second consecutive FIFA World Cup finals and also could have been the first African side to reach that top stage.
Suarez was sent off for what was then described as a professional foul but the Ghanaians and Africans as a whole were livid, arguing that the referee should just had given a goal because by blocking it with his hands, it means there was nothing else that could have stopped that goal-bound header.
Africans as a whole were also incensed and seething with fury when a remorseless Suarez told the world that: “The Hand of God now belongs to me. Mine is the real Hand of God” — in references to Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal against England in 1986 World Cup.
After he was sent off, Suarez had stopped to watch Asamoah Gyan to take the penalty and when his shot hit the crossbar, the Uruguayan celebrated the miss before heading down the tunnel.
Uruguay eventually won the match 4-2 through post-match penalties after a 1-1 stalemate in 90 minutes and 30 of extra time.
It’s now time for revenge as Ghana are in Group H alongside Uruguay, Portugal and Korea Republic, with the Black Stars facing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal tomorrow before meeting Korea Republic on November 28 and Uruguay on December 2.
After missing out on the FIFA World Cup™ in 2018, Ghana will be back on the biggest of stages at Qatar 2022 — even if they did take a tortuous route to get there, reports @FIFA.com.
After crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the group stage earlier this year, Ghana chose to get rid of coach Milovan Rejavac, replacing him with Otto Addo — 47-year-old who played for a number of years in the Bundesliga, including for Borussia Dortmund, taking over the reins the Boack Stars for whom he had played 15 times.
Addo steered them to Qatar courtesy of an away-goals win over arch-rivals Nigeria in the African play-offs.
@FIFA.com further reports that Ghana are the surprise package in what is a very strong group. While their performances en route to the World Cup were up and down to say the least, the squad has an interesting mix of experienced and talented players capable of winning matches at this tournament.
It will be up to Addo as coach to find the right blend and give the team the self-belief it needs to shake things up in Qatar.
Otto Addo’s approach and tactics
Ghana barely squeezed through the second round of qualifying for the World Cup, and then had to face no less a challenge than Nigeria’s Super Eagles in March with a ticket to Qatar up for grabs.
Addo had only taken over the coaching reins from Rajevac in the February, meaning that this was a real baptism of fire. He was already well acquainted with the squad from his role as assistant coach, but he only had a few weeks in which to prepare both himself and the team for the crucial matches against Nigeria.
His task was not made any easier by the fact that he also had a number of absences to deal with in the squad. Addo made five changes to the starting line-up that Rajevac had picked for his last match in charge.
He promoted youngsters Mohammed Kudus and Felix Afena-Gyan to the starting XI for the first leg against Nigeria, and with the formation alternating between 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, the team looked particularly solid in defence.
This had been a real problem for Ghana in the recent past, but here they kept a clean sheet in a goalless draw in Addo’s first match in charge. He then sent out the same XI for the second leg and his trust was rewarded with a battling performance in a 1-1 that saw them through to the World Cup on the away goals rule.
It has already become clear that Addo will not shy away from picking youngsters, with four members of the starting line-up against Nigeria under the age of 25 and two of them still teenagers.
These young and hungry players will bring fresh impetus to the team and put pressure on the more established members of the squad as they look to go as far as they can in Qatar.
Key player: Andre Ayew
One of the most interesting and crucial players in Addo’s squad is Andre Ayew. With 107 international appearances to his name, the Ghana captain is closing in on Asamoah Gyan’s record of 109 caps.
The son of the legendary Abedi Pele has also scored 23 international goals, putting him fifth for his country. In 2009, he was part of the team that won the U-20 crown at both continental and world level.
Facts and figures like these go some way to reflecting the importance of Ayew to the national team. Alongside his younger brother Jordan (81 appearances, 19 goals) — himself a critical part of the squad — the 32-year-old will be looking to convert his many years of international experience up front into a haul of goals come the end of November.
Last season, he moved to Qatar to play for Al-Sadd, meaning that he will be well acclimatised to playing conditions as soon as the World Cup gets under way. He is very much Addo’s right-hand man and will play an important role in mentoring the younger squad members, after shining on the world stage as a youth player himself.
Back at South Africa 2010, he came second in the voting behind Thomas Muller for the Best Young Player award.
Ghana qualified for their first FIFA World Cup appearance in 2006 and with John Mensah, Stephen Appiah and Asamoah Gyan in their ranks, the Black Stars made it all the way to the Round of 16 in Germany before losing to Brazil.
At Brazil 2014, Ghana came unstuck in what was a very tough group, but they could hold their heads up high as they were the only team not to lose against eventual champions Germany.
In Russia 2018 qualifying, the Black Stars failed to make it past Egypt and had to watch the tournament from home.—Source @FIFA.com