Greetings my fellow punters and I wish you all a great weekend. The best stages of the World Cup are upon us as the quarterfinals get underway today and tomorrow. The Brazil vs. Netherlands clash may deservedly attract the spotlight but the encounter between Uruguay and Ghana isn’t lacking in interest either. Let’s take a closer look…
Uruguay – Ghana.
Few would have given much hope that Uruguay and Ghana would be meeting in the quarterfinals prior to the commencement of the World Cup. But against expectations, the “Celeste” and “Black Stars” have booked their place in the final 8 and will clash at Soccer City in Johannesburg for a semi-final spot. This is a huge challenge for both nations. Uruguay, who have won the competition twice (1930 and 1950), haven’t reached the last four since the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico, while Ghana acts as a sole representative of African football, as only Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) have previously made the quarterfinals but unable to go further.
Oscar Tabarez knows first hand the historical importance of such a match. “If we get through to the semifinals, the only nations that will have achieved more than us at the World Cup will be those who have lifted the trophy”, he characteristically stated. He went on to add “if we win we go into the last four and if you look at it historically, it’s a very important feat”. Defender Diego Godin is injured so he will make way for Mauricio Victorino, who was subbed at half time against South Korea, to play alongside Lugano in central defence. In midfield Fernandez replaces Perreira.
Head coach Milovan Rajevac is basically considered the man responsible for Ghana’s sensational campaign so far in the tournament. The Serbian national team coach has managed to build a unit that never stops running during the 90 minutes and still creates plenty of chances, while they are also effective without having a big star name player within the ranks. Captain Stephen Appia has stated that the coach is very clever tactically. But the African side have problems to contend with today, as defender Jonathan Mensah and forward winger Andre Ayew are suspended, while central defender John Mensah, midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, defender Hans Sarpei and leading scorer Gyan Asamoah are all struggling with injuries. Boateng and Sarpei are very unlikely to be fit in time. In their last training session before the match the Ghana squad huddled in a circle in the centre of the pitch and prayed for victory.
Uruguay: Muslera; M. Pereira, Lugano, Victorino, Fucile; Perez, Arevalo, Fernandez; Forlan; Suarez, Cavani.
Ghana: Kingson; Pantsil, Mensah, Vorsah, Addy; Annan, D. Boateng; Muntari, Asamoah, Inkoom; Gyan.
SELECTION: I have heard quite a lot in recent days that there will be an African side in the semi-finals and this can only be Ghana. I will go along with this scenario although it must be said Uruguay look in better shape.