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Qatar 2022: Ghana crash out of group stage after Uruguay loss

BY: Kweku Zurek, Doha, Courtesy Ministry of Youth and Sports
Qatar 2022: Ghana crash out of group stage after Uruguay loss
Qatar 2022: Ghana crash out of group stage after Uruguay loss

The Black Stars of Ghana failed to advance from the group stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup following a disappointing 2-0 loss to Uruguay at the the Al Janoub stadium.

The Stars needed victory to advance to the round of 16 of the competition after losing their opening game to Portugal and defeating South Korea.

However, veteran Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez returned to haunt the Black Stars, playing a crucial role in the goals which denied Ghana progression.

Incidentally, the goals were not enough to grant Uruguay qualification as South Korea defeated group winners Portugal in the other Group H match to lace second and book a date with Brazil.

Twelve years ago, Suarez broke Ghanaian hearts with unsportsmanlike conduct, using his hands to save a goal-bound header by Dominic Adiyiah at the 2010 World Cup, denying Ghana a place in the semi-finals after the Black Stars lost a penalty shootout.

Today, the 36-year-old with his best years behind him and who was yet to have a shot on target in the competition prior to the Ghana clash, rolled back the years and contributed to two goals in six first-half minutes at the Al Janoub stadium in Qatar to earn Uruguay progression from Group H behind group winners Portugal.

First, he maintained his composure in the box as his shot was followed up by two-goal hero Giorgian De Arrascaeta who scored from close-range to give Uruguay their first goal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the 26th minute. The goal came from a passing move after Jordan Ayew lost the ball in the Uruguayan half.

The buck-toothed Nacional striker was in the thick of affairs once again, laying on a pass for an onrushing Arrascaeta to volley home past Lawrence Ati Zigi from close range in the 32nd minute.

Both goals came against the run of play after Ghana spurned a glorious opportunity to score the opening goal when skipper Andre Ayew saw his feeble penalty kick saved by goalie Sergio Rochet.

The penalty was awarded by German referee Daniel Siebert following a lengthy VAR review after Mohammed Kudus was brought down by goalie Rochet when the Ajax striker beat him to a rebound from a Jordan Ayew shot.

Ghana coach Otto Addo attempted to breathe life into Ghana's fading hopes by hauling off captain Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew, replacing them with speedsters Kamaldeen Sulemana and Osman Bukari as the Black Stars went in search for a goal.

Kamaldeen was a menace to the Uruguayan defence when he came on, threatening their fullbacks with his pace down the left, but his deliveries could not find forwards Bukari or Williams.

Suarez went off to a chorus of cheers and jeers from 43,443 spectators inside the Al Janoub in the 66th minute when he was replaced by Edison Cavani after picking up a booking for time-wasting.

Black Stars talisman Kudus appeared the likeliest source of a goal for Ghana, but his individual effort from range sailed over as Williams almost caught goalie Rochet on the ball.

Substitute Antoine Semenyo who came on for the goal-shy Williams was presented with a golden opportunity in the 79th minute but he fired a low shot wide. Moments later, Kudus forced a save the Uruguayan goalie but the resulting corner kick did not threaten the Uruguayan goal.

The Ghana fans started to cheer in the Stadium when results of the Korea versus Portugal clash filtered in.

There was an even louder cheer at full-time, even though Ghana had failed to qualify from the Ghana fans when Suarez was pictured on the stadium monitor with his head in his jersey.

This was because Uruguay had been pipped by South Korea who defeated already qualified Portugal 2-1 in the group's other tie to advance on goals scored.

In second place before the day's matches, Ghana finished bottom of the group.