Saturday, July 03, 2010

Preview of Quarter-final 2: Ghana v Uruguay

This is Africa versus South America in the first ever World Cup clash between these two nations. In fact I understand that they have never played each other before. The Black Stars against La Celeste. It's a quarter-final which, to be honest, practically nobody would have picked pre World Cup 2010. Uruguay of course are past world cup winners in 1930 and 1950. Since a semi-final appearance in 1970 this is the first time they have progressed beyond the second round. Ghana have already gone further than they ever have before, having reached the second round in their first appearance in 2006. They have joined the African nations Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) in having reached a world cup quarter-final and are hoping to become the first African team to reach the semis by beating Uruguay.

Coming into this game Uruguay have scored 6 goals in World Cup 2010 and conceded 1. Ghana have scored 4 and conceded 3. Uruguay have had 3 wins and a draw, Ghana have had 2 wins (one of them courtesy of extra-time), 1 draw and a loss. Having said all this Ghana did have a tough Group D to navigate. Uruguay's form is all the more impressive since they only finished 5th in South American qualifying and had to rely on beating Costa Rica in a playoff to get to South Africa.Both sides are strong defensively so this could be a tight game. Having said that it could well be the attacking players who decide the game. Uruguay have the potent Suarez and Forlan up front as well as the unheralded Cavani who has been playing well. Ghana operate with a lone striker in Gyan - and if Ghana are to win, they will very likely need at least one goal from him.

Team news: Uruguay's defender Godin has been ruled out meaning a start for Victorino. Fernandez will replace Pereira which appears to be a tactical switch. Ghana have had a couple of injury concerns in Gyan and Boateng but both appear to have won the race to be fit. Vorsah has recovered from injury and so he looks set to replace Jonathan Mensah. Ayew is suspended after picking up his second booking of the tournament against the USA (and his appeal to FIFA failed). This is a massive blow as Ayew has been one of the stars of World Cup 2010. Muntari who was almost sent home after a row with manager Milovan Rajevac has been picked in his place.

This will be an interesting clash of styles and a massive stage for the two teams to get acquainted. Ghana will have the whole of Africa behind them but the captivating prize of a spot in the last four will not be decided on popularity.

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