Unforgettable World Cup tales - Ghanaian cries which echoed across Africa
Hosting a Football World Cup for many countries is nothing short of a carnival. Beautiful paintings across the streets, long lines for tickets, smiles, and sorrows, jubilation and heartbreaks - A World Cup never comes alone!
But for South Africa, hosting this grandiose tournament meant a lot more than what it did to the other countries.
It was probably the first major event they were hosting after independence and the whole of Africa, led by the immortal Nelson Mandela, were gearing up for this extravaganza.
Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria, Ivory Coast and South Africa were the African confederation representatives. Despite being the highest ranked side amongst all African nations, Nigerian performance was not up to the mark and they failed to make it to the Round of 16.
Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Algeria, the hosts South Africa, all of them failed to enter the knockout stages, much to the disappointment of their faithful. Yet, there was one side which kept a longlasting African dream alive and to be fair, they almost did the unthinkable!
Ghana were grouped alongside Australia, Serbia and the hot favorites Germany. They put in a spirited performance in every game and grabbed 4 points, which was enough to confirm a round of 16 clash against the United States.
Ghana narrowly won the game 2-1 in extra time, which ranks right up there amongst their finest performances ever. Uruguay were standing between Ghana (and the whole of Africa) and a semifinal berth.
Johannesburg played hosts to this massive encounter and it was a choke-a-bloke turnout, with Ghanaian fans in the majority. Sulley Muntari opened the scoring for Ghana right at the end of the first half with an absolute thunderbolt from 35 yards.
Uruguayan hero for the 2010 campaign, Diego Forlan came up with another peach of a strike, converting a free kick from a slightly acute angle. The scoreline remained 1-1 after 90 minutes and that paved way for another 30.
With time running out and penalties well on cards, another infamous tale added to a never-ending list of Footballing dramas. Ghana were awarded a freekick and Uruguay managed to resist the first two attempts on goal.
But on the third attempt, when the goalkeeper was off his position, Luis Suarez on the edge of the goal line handled the ball and sabotaged an inevitable goal. The referee was quick to pounce and Suarez was sent off. To add insult to Uruguayan injury, Ghana had a penalty with a few seconds left.
That was it, a moment of a lifetime for Ghana! One penalty kick was separating them and a semifinal slot. But Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar and an incident that should've resulted in Uruguayan catastrophe led to an unhealable heartbreak for the whole of Africa.
As it turned out, The La Celeste won that humdinger of a game via penalties and Ghana suffered a traumatic defeat. People still reminisce Luis Suarez celebrating that penalty miss by Gyan in extra time at the exit doors.
Exports rated it the best game of that edition but the scars of that wound still remain uncured amongst a lot of Ghanaians and Africans. Still, it was a heartwarming fairytale which just didn't have a happy ending.Modified 20 Dec 2019, 16:16 IST