About That Game is a series that examines the statistics and stories that are behind some of the most iconic matches. This installment takes a look back at Uruguay and Ghana’s 1-1 draw in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a match that resulted in a dream being dashed for a whole continent thanks to a triumph for La Celeste on African territory in a penalty shootout.
Uruguay in the year 1930, Italy in the year 1934, and South Korea and Japan in 2002. One incident on its own may be written off as a mere coincidence, but taken together, these three instances point to an odd pattern in the World Cup, which is that the very first time the event is hosted on a continent, the home nation advances far into the competition. Therefore, all eyes were on the hosts of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, when Africa was eventually awarded the tournament. Cameroon, who were rated 19th in the world, caught the attention of fans of African football because of their position in the rankings. Ghana was hardly given a second glance by anybody.
The Black Stars were just making their second appearance in the World Cup in their whole history. Their first experience in 2006 gave them reason for optimism because they miraculously advanced from a group that included eventual winners Italy, Czech Republic, and the United States of America, both of which were ranked in the top five in the world at the time. However, the dream was dashed when Brazil defeated Ghana with a score of 3-0 in the round of 16. Ratomir Dujkovi resigned after the 2006 World Cup despite the fact that he had a very successful performance in the competition. After Ghana’s failure to win the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations as hosts, Claude Le Roy was chosen as coach of the Ghana national football team but was abruptly fired two years later. The Black Stars finally settled on Milovan Rajevac as their permanent head coach, despite the fact that Sellas Tetteh was brought on as a temporary replacement.
In the span of only a few short months, Rajevac accomplished a lot, making it all the way to the championship game of both the 2009 African Nations Championship and the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. As a result of the U20 team’s success in the young AFCON and World Cup competitions during the same time period, Ghanaian football was on the rise. Andre Ayew, Jonathan Mensah, Dominic Adiyiah, Samuel Inkoom, and Daniel Agyei were all elevated to the World Cup squad by Rajevac as a result of his courageous decision to advance five players from the U20 team to the World Cup roster.
As a direct consequence of this, Ghana entered to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa having the youngest roster in the competition, with an average age of 23 years and 352 days. The lack of experience on the squad was more than made up for by their competitive drive and their determination. The team captained by Rajevac advanced through Group D with four points, just edging out Australia in terms of goal differential. The United States of America were defeated by Ghana for the second time in a row in the World Cup, but this time it was in a nail-biting round of 16 matchup. Asamoah Gyan’s goal in this competition was one of the best of the tournament, and it helped Ghana improve upon their previous performance in Germany from four years before. A Uruguayan team that knows how to play on the street would be the team that stands in the way of Ghana reaching the semifinals.
Ghana The World Cup in 2010
In contrast to Ghana, Uruguay had a more stable group of technical reserves. As the head coach of La Celeste, Carlos Tabárez never missed a game throughout his two separate spells, during which he oversaw a total of almost 200 contests. It was impossible to envisage a time when Tabárez was not involved in Uruguayan football. He guided Uruguay to their lone victory in the 1990 World Cup, which was a close 1-0 triumph over South Korea and was their first win at the World Cup in two decades. This victory was also Uruguay’s first win at the World Cup since 1978. After that, South America spent another 20 years without a win until Tabárez came back and defeated South Africa in their own home at the 2010 World Cup. Prior to that, South America had not won the World Cup since 1986.
In the years leading up to that World Cup, Uruguay had struggled through a difficult stretch. After suffering a defeat at the hands of Australia in the playoffs, they were unable to qualify for the World Cup in 2006. The arrival of Tabárez nearly immediately reversed Uruguay’s fortunes, as seen by the country’s fourth-place result in the 2007 Copa America. However, in order to qualify, they were need to compete until the very end, which included a win against Costa Rica in the play-offs. As a direct result of this, the Uruguayans entered the 2010 World Cup having competed in a total of 20 qualifying matches, which was more than any other side.
The Adidas Jabulani ball, which gained reputation for its propensity to fizz around like a wayward firecracker, was one of the narratives that emerged during the World Cup in South Africa. The tournament was held in South Africa. Players never stopped whining, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Lionel Messi, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, and Wayne Rooney all finished the World Cup with a single goal between them. The fact that Diego Forlan of Uruguay was able to master the Jabulani and smash the ball with seeming accuracy from anyplace in the area where he could see the goal may have been just as astonishing.
Both Forlan and Luis Suarez were instrumental in Uruguay’s rise to the top of Group A, where they led France, Mexico, and the hosts, South Africa. Since the World Cup tournament held in Switzerland in 1954, this was the first time that La Celeste had finished first in their group. Suarez’s impressive play carried over into the round of 16, when he scored twice to lead Uruguay to a 2-1 victory against South Korea. The South American team’s goal was to make it into the final four for the first time in forty years, but in order to do so, they had to defeat Ghana, the last remaining African nation in the competition.
Ghana and Uruguay squared up against one another for the very first time with the aspirations of a whole continent depending on their shoulders. The match was played at Soccer City in Johannesburg, which was also the location of the championship game for this tournament. A wall of noise was generated by one thousand vuvuzelas, which overflowed the walls of the stadium and resonated throughout the continent. Many people believed that now was the moment for Africa to shine on the world stage, and the Black Stars had shown that they were ready to take on that responsibility. Fans from the area started calling the squad from West Africa “BaGhana BaGhana,” which is an adaptation of the moniker given to the South African men’s national team, which is “Bafana Bafana.”
The level of support was so overwhelming that Nelson Mandela, who served as the first president of South Africa, sent a letter to Kwesi Nyantakyi, who serves as the president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), saying that “the entire of Africa is behind Ghana.” We hope that you will be successful and win the World Cup.
Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah, two of the Black Stars’ most important players, were both banned for the match against Uruguay owing to an accumulation of yellow cards, therefore the team had to win without them in order to achieve their goal. Isaac Vorsah made a speedy recovery from his injury in time to take Mensah’s position, while Sulley Muntari stepped up to play a larger role in Ayew’s absence. Ayew had produced the most opportunities (13) and amassed the most predicted assists (1.2) for Ghana in the World Cup up to this point, which meant that Muntari had some large shoes to fill when he took over the team’s captaincy. In contrast, Uruguay’s defensive backbone Diego Godin was ruled out of the game owing to an injury to his thigh. In the middle of the field, Alvaro Fernandez replaced Alvaro Pereira.
Uruguay The World Cup in Ghana in 2010
Even though the game was anticipated to be a tight one, the energy in the stadium gave Ghana a little advantage even before the first ball was played. The game was expected to be closely fought. On the other hand, Uruguay got off to a better start, with Forlan being highly engaged while Ghana battled to break out of their own half of the field. Forlan had chosen a shoot on sight strategy for the match, and he came dangerously close to catching Richard Kingson off surprise with a free kick that was taken at the midway mark.
After 15 minutes of play, Tabárez’s team believed they had grabbed the lead after Forlan’s corner rebounded off John Mensah. However, Kingson made a stop from point blank range to prevent the defending world champions from taking the lead. It was a moment that left the Black Stars with their hearts in their mouths, particularly considering that Soccer City had already seen two own goals during the competition, one from Denmark and the other from South Korea.
It wasn’t until the 20th minute that Ghana was able to make their first touch inside the penalty area of Uruguay. The audience seemed to be inconsolable, and in an effort to rally both teams and quicken the pace of the game, they began to wave Mexican flags at them. A few seconds later, Luis Suarez was on the other end of the field, gliding past Vorsah before unleashing a vicious volley that was deflected over the bar by the veteran Kingson, who, curiously, was fourth choice at Premier League team Wigan Athletic at the time. Suarez’s goal was saved.
Despite having played the maximum number of qualifying matches and having to play in five separate locations throughout South Africa, Uruguay did not exhibit any indications of weariness during their games. The corner count was 6-1 in favor of Uruguay when Ghana got their first corner of the game in the 30th minute. Uruguay had won the previous six corners. Vorsah, who has been linked with a transfer to Stoke City, sprang over Diego Lugano to get his head on an inswinging pass that was sent by Muntari, but he was only able to put his header inches wide of the goal. It provided Ghana with the impetus they needed to start asserting themselves in the game during the last 15 minutes of the first half. It’s possible that their domination occurred at the same time that Uruguay’s captain, Lugano, was injured and had to be replaced by Andres Scotti.
Gyan should have scored his fourth goal of the tournament after purposeful wing play by Kevin-Prince Boateng, but his side foot effort from around the penalty spot went just wide of the goal. This is illustrated in the expected goals race chart that can be found further down on this page. Ghana were in the ascendancy. At that time in the game, Uruguay were having trouble dealing with Ghana’s positional play because Boateng, Muntari, and Kwadwo Asamoah were consistently finding space in the center of the field.
Uruguay 1-1 Ghana – xG race
After a collision that occurred during an aerial battle, the audience began to boo Suarez only a few minutes before the half-time break. This was in response to Suarez’s request that Vorsah be shown a yellow card for his actions. After the free kick, both players challenged each other, and Suarez was found to have tripped the Ghanaian defender. In today’s game, the video assistant referee (VAR) would have had the ability to review this event. The referee, Olegário Benquerenca, cautioned the players that further misconduct would result in ejection from the game.
Gyan played Ghana’s first shot on target, although a somewhat feeble attempt from approximately 30 yards away. Ghana were keen to score before the half, and some slick interplay between Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah, and Boateng led to Gyan shooting Ghana’s first shot on target. The pressure that Ghana applied was strong, and it didn’t take them long to get the ball back inside the Uruguayan half. Inkoom, who is just 20 years old, exerted himself vigorously while playing on the wings and found Boateng with a cross. However, the FA Cup finalist mistimed his acrobatic attempt, and his shot ended up flying into the bleachers. As Ghana endeavored to fashion something from the wings, the pattern would eventually become a frequent sight. Twelve years after the historic encounter, Inkoom discloses to The Analyst that coach Milovan inserted him into the squad mostly owing to his crossing skill. This revelation comes from Inkoom’s conversation with The Analyst.
“Rajevac advised me to attempt to cross the ball every time before the game against Uruguay because he knows I have a terrific cross and that Asamoah Gyan is outstanding in the air,” I said.
Before the match against Uruguay, Inkoom had had contributed nine open play crosses for Ghana in only two matches, putting him in third place behind Andre Ayew (13) and John Pantsil (12). (16).
Before Gyan sent a through ball to Muntari in the penalty area, it seemed as if neither team would have a chance to score before the halftime break. The Internazionale midfielder let off a thunderous effort from around 35 yards out, and the ball took a deflection off of Muslera before finding its way into the back of the goal. This goal was significant for Muntari because, if it were not for Nyantakyi, he would not have been able to compete in the World Cup. In a recent interview with Joy Sports, the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) said that in order to convince Coach Rajevac to put Muntari in the team, he had to “kneel” in front of him.
Now, a player who was virtually considered an outcast had brought raptures of delight onto the whole of the African continent. Only forty-five minutes stood between fifty-four African states and their respective West African delegations and the making of history. A glance at the projected goals at half time showed 0.19 for Uruguay and 0.40 for Ghana, which may imply that the hosts had every right to start to fantasize of winning the game.
However, it was too soon to begin celebrating, and the players clearly understood this, as seen by the speed with which they assembled themselves into a circle on the field. What’s the takeaway? Keep your focus on the task at hand. The more experienced players, such as John Paintsil, Kevin-Prince Boateng, and John Mensah, continued sticking both index fingers to the top of their head. Mensah, who was wearing the wristband, was heard repeatedly yelling “concentrate.”
Unsurprisingly, Ghana did not make any substitutions before the start of the second half. On the other side, Uruguay decided to substitute offensive midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro for defender Alvaro Fernandez. In spite of the fact that Ghana picked up precisely where they left off in the second half, Uruguay was the team who scored against the flow of play. After fooling Kingson with his free kick, Forlan went up to the plate and converted his sixth shot of the game to pull Uruguay level with the score. The vast majority of the more than 80,000 spectators there dropped into complete silence, while a tiny group of Uruguayan supporters flew into a frenzy. It was Forlan’s 27th goal for La Celeste, and it was maybe the most important one he had scored to that point in his career. Kingson seemed disheartened, which was particularly notable given that Ghana had depended on him, with the goalie for Wigan Athletic having made 15 saves in the tournament before to Ghana’s match against Uruguay.
After receiving a ball from Kevin-Prince Boateng, Gyan was given an opportunity to score despite the fact that the South Americans were beginning to gain control of the game. The talisman for the Black Stars, though, had a near post attempt that Muslera was able to save. As the game progressed, it became more and more of a fight to the finish, with both teams taking it in turns to assault the other. When there were around 20 minutes remaining to go, Uruguay had their best opportunity of the half. In the round of 16, the match against South Korea, both Forlan and Suarez came dangerously close to scoring for the first time. Forlan sent a pinpoint cross, but Suarez’s shot went just wide of the target, touching the side netting instead of the back of the net.
After a few more minutes, Suarez’s poked attempt was saved by Kingson, and then Gyan capitalized on a mistake made by the other team’s defense to force Muslera to make a stop with his first-time volley. After the first 90 minutes, neither team was able to pull away from the other, therefore the last 15 minutes were characterized by well-conceived movements that were poorly carried out.
Asamoah Gyan Uruguay Ghana The World Cup in 2010
Ghana won their second match in a row and went into extra time without showing any indications that they were going to slow down. Instead, they continued to dominate the proceedings throughout the match. Gyan was involved in almost every aspect of the play and had the most shot attempts (10) of any player in the game. A moment of insanity occurred just before the referee blew the final whistle as extra time continued to pass without either team being able to create a meaningful opportunity. With just a few seconds left on the clock, Ghana was given a free kick right on the outside of the box. Kevin-Prince Boateng made a risky flip on Paintsil’s delivery. The play was perilous. Muslera rushed out but was unable to collect the ball before it was knocked off Mensah’s head. The ball conveniently landed in Appiah’s path, but his shot was blocked before it could cross the goal line. Adiyiah took control of the rebound at that point. When it seemed like the ball was about to go into the back of the goal, time seemed to freeze in the stadium. However, Suarez reached out his palm and swatted away the hopes of a whole continent.
Referee Olegario Benquerenca, who was a substitute for the originally appointed Howard Webb, put a stop to the pinball after seeing Suarez’s handball and instantly sent him off the field. This brought an end to the match between Ghana and Uruguay in 2010. When Lampard’s strike clearly crossed the goal line but no goal was awarded, a Uruguayan referee team headed by Jorge Larrionda came under intense criticism following England’s 4-1 hammering at the hands of Germany. This caused FIFA to remove the English official from his position. FIFA determined that it would be smart to presumably eradicate any English link while Uruguay was competing because it would be sensible.
As history lured the Black Stars forward, Gyan scooped up the ball and put it on the position where it should have been. Since missing a penalty against Czech Republic in 2006, the then 24-year-old had gone on to score all of his seven penalties for club and country, including two before to this in the 2010 World Cup. Among those two previous World Cup penalties, two were scored by the same player. Gyan aimed for power, but it seems like he went for too much strength since his attempt broke the very top of the crossbar. The noise level in the stadium dropped to such a low level that the only thing that could be heard was the Uruguayan players cheering and praising Muslera. After one moment when the crowd was on the verge of erupting, the next moment brought a penalty shootout that required them to hold their breath. Since the final of the AFCON 18 years ago, when Ghana lost to Ivory Coast 11-10 in a shootout, Ghana has not taken part in a shootout since then.
Uruguay 1-1 Ghana goals
Both Forlan and Gyan scored their initial penalties for their respective teams. The last three penalties were converted, which meant that Ghana needed to score in order to tie the shootout. Mensah chose to take a shorter route to the goal, and Muslera was able to save his weak attempt. Given that this was the only penalty he had ever received in his whole career, this came as no surprise at all. After that, Uruguay had two more opportunities to score from the penalty spot, but they missed both of them, which meant they just needed one more goal to win the game. Next up was Sebastian Abreu, also known as “El Loco,” which literally means “the wild one.” At the time, he was playing for Bologna, which was his 17th club overall, and if Uruguay need an experienced head at that precise moment, there was no one better than Abreu. Abreu attempted a chip shot in the middle of the field, which caused Kingson to dive in the wrong direction. Africa wept in despair as Uruguay celebrated their victory.
World Cup penalties in 2010 for Ghana and Uruguay
“I’d been keeping an eye on their goalkeeper, and I saw that he dove before the penalty taker touched the ball. “I didn’t believe he was likely to remain still given that there was a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs,” Abreu said to FIFA 12 years later.
The aforementioned phrase is part of FIFA’s build-up to the 2022 World Cup. This is because there will be a repeat of the “Hand of God 2.0,” as it is now well known, in Qatar later this year. This is why the quote was used. The two sides will face each other in the last game of Group H, and the outcome of the match might decide who advances to the knockout stage and who departs for home earlier than expected.
There is absolutely no game that Ghana would want to win more than the one they are now playing. Earlier this year, when former captain John Mensah went on a media tour in Ghana, the overall theme that emerged was how firmly ingrained that match was into his mind. In the year 2020, Hans Sarpei said to the BBC that he is unable to forgive Suarez. On the other side, Gyan revealed to the Daily Telegraph that he has now been able to find it within himself to release Suarez.
But Suarez has not shown any remorse for the event, and he has continued to make provocative statements about it, including the following: “The ‘Hand of God’ now belongs to me” and “I made the finest save of the tournament.”
The Black Stars should prepare themselves for a Uruguayan team with a similar mentality even if Muslera, Cavani, and Suarez are likely to be the only players of the Uruguayan team who competed in the World Cup in 2010. The motto “Garra Charrua,” which basically signifies the Uruguayan fighting spirit and a never-give-up mentality, is a way of life for the people of Uruguay.
Under new coach Diego Alonso, Uruguay have shown promising signs of improvement. They have a record of seven wins and two losses from of nine games played, with 18 goals scored and only two goals allowed. On the other hand, Ghana’s new head coach Otto Addo has had a difficult time putting together a streak of solid performances. He has only won three out of eight games, despite scoring 10 goals and allowing the same amount of goals to be scored against him. Both of these coaches are 47 years old, and a successful showing in Qatar has the potential to serve as a stepping stone for both of their subsequent careers.
Alonso demonstrated that he still has faith in Suarez by playing him for a total of 135 minutes during the most recent international break. As main characters (and antagonists) from 2010 are likely to be present on both teams, the match at the Al Janoub Stadium on December 2 is shaping up to be an exciting and dramatic event.
Ghana will be seeking retribution in this match.