There aren’t any winners in revenge missions. Sentiment demanded that Ghana must proper the wrongs of the 2010 World Cup quarter-final towards Uruguay and expiate the harm of Luis Suárez’s last-minute handball at the line. But Uruguay, and Suárez specifically, haven’t any time for such romantic notions of redemption. Ghana have been once more eradicated after lacking a penalty however their simplest comfort was once that, despite the fact that Suárez arrange two, it was once South Korea who went thru to the final 16 with Portugal.
It was once a recreation haunted by means of the reminiscence of occasions at Soccer City 12 years in the past, and in particular by means of that one second within the final minute of overtime. The symbol was once all the time there, a perverse footballing pietà, flitting within the peripheral imaginative and prescient: Stephen Appiah within the foreground having had the preliminary blocked effort (which was once most definitely offside, despite the fact that no one talks about that), John Mensah and the goalkeeper Fernando Muslera falling at the side of Andrés Scotti, Dominic Adiyah stretching having headed the unfastened ball goalward, Diego Fucile with again arched and left fist thrust up having neglected his try to deal with, and Suárez, palms out, jumping to his proper to claw the ball away. It is the Pisgah of African soccer, the instant when it noticed the promised land of a World Cup semi-final, however was once denied.
Billboards throughout Accra this week have depicted the incident with the slogan: “REVENGE!: Let’s support the Black Stars.” The proven fact that Ghanaians nonetheless really feel the ache of that second acutely was once made transparent by means of the pre-match press-conference. Suárez, with a feature sense of provocative showmanship, gave the impression on my own and gave the impression solely unfazed by means of a Ghanaian journalist announcing that many in his nation noticed him as “the devil himself” (including “el diablo”, lest there be any confusion) and wanted to “retire” him. He didn’t regret it, he said. He had been punished. He had been shown a red card and missed the semi-final as a result. It wasn’t his fault Asamoah Gyan had missed the penalty.
Was this an elaborate wind-up? Suárez had played just 81 minutes in the group stage and had been distinctly unimpressive, managing just one shot on goal (off target). But if this was an enormous mind-game Uruguay carried it to the extreme, naming Suárez as captain. Was that in the mind of André Ayew, the only Ghana player at Al Janoub to have been in the 2010 quarter-final, as he stepped up to take a penalty?
For, of course there was a penalty, and of course it was laced with controversy. How could it not be? And for added narrative value, it came about for an incident in the 18th minute – 18 being the shirt number worn by Adiyah. Sergio Rochet, the Uruguay keeper, clearly tripped Mohammed Kudus but initially Ayew was ruled offside. When VAR proved he had been played fractionally onside by the heel of Matthias Olivera, the penalty award was automatic. Ayew’s kick, though, was dismal and easily saved by Rochet.
There was once additional VAR penalty controversy simply prior to the hour as Darwin Núñez went down below a problem from Daniel Amartey. The idiosyncratic German referee Daniel Siebert did not give it, was once advised to seek the advice of the display screen and, surprisingly, determined to not overturn the verdict, signaling he had noticed a slight contact at the ball. It was once a choice that proved essential for Uruguay’s objective distinction; had that been given and transformed, they might have long gone thru slightly than South Korea.
For Ghana, the moment had been there, and the moment was missed. There was a sense of inevitability to what followed. Few sides are as good as Uruguay at sensing a game’s emotional pulse. As Ghana reeled, Uruguay surged. Mohammed Salisu had already cleared off the line from Núñez when Suárez’s shot was half-blocked by Lawrence Ati-Zigi. The ball was probably spinning anyway but Giorgian de Arrascaeta nodded over the line from close range.
Six minutes later, he had his second, volleying crisply home after a clever Suárez flick. He may be 35, the belly starting to show beneath the shirt but, though much is taken, much abides: there is magic yet in his brain and his touch, and perhaps particularly when the boos of opposition fans get the blood going.
And the fury, so strangely lacking against South Korea, was back. He raged at the officials, getting booked shortly after the Núñez penalty had been turned down, needled away at Salisu and put his body in the way to win free-kicks before being withdrawn to predictable jeers from the Ghana fans after 65 minutes. He had beaten them again.
The satan, in all probability, is rarely actually achieved however, this time, it was once no longer slightly sufficient. He ended the sport in tears at the bench having discovered South Korea had crushed Portugal, a shot of him at the large display screen permitting the Ghana enthusiasts yet another burst of celebratory booing. They had long gone out – however no less than they’d taken the satan with them.