Ghana/Uruguay to meet Netherlands in Semi Finals
The Black Stars of Ghana, will have the entire host continent behind them as they try to defeat Uruguay on Friday in Johannesburg and become the first African team ever to reach the semifinals.
Ghana was the only one of six African participants to advance past the group stage, finishing second to Germany in Group D, and its run continued Saturday in the round of 16 as Asamoah Gyan scored in extra time to eliminate the United States 2-1.
“We’ve made everybody proud,” Gyan said. “Not Ghana alone, but all of Africa.”
The Black Stars had never even qualified for a World Cup until 2006, when they were beaten by Brazil in the round of 16, but now they’re shouldering the hopes of their continent at the first African World Cup despite playing the entire tournament without injured captain Michael Essien.
“I believe if we keep on staying focused why can’t we lift the trophy?” defender Samuel Inkoom said.
Gyan has helped to compensate for Essien’s absence, scoring three of Ghana’s four goals. Both he and Kevin-Prince Boateng – the Black Stars’ other goal scorer against the U.S. – are dealing with injuries, but both expect to be in the lineup Friday.
Ghana won’t have the services of midfielder Andre Ayew and defender Jonathan Mensah, with each suspended due to accumulation of yellow cards, but Isaac Vorsah may be ready to return from a knee injury and replace Mensah.
Ghana’s defenders are well aware of talented Uruguayan strikers Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, who’ve combined for five of La Celeste’s six goals.
Uruguay didn’t concede a goal while winning Group A, although South Korea scored to tie Saturday’s round of 16 match at 1-all. Suarez responded with his second strike of the game, scoring in the 80th minute on a brilliant individual effort from the edge of the penalty area in the 2-1 victory.
“We have been dreaming since this tournament started,” Suarez said. “Some teams start out as favorites. My side is ready to fight hard for wonderful things. We have to live the emotions and what we are feeling in every match.”
Uruguay won the World Cup in 1930 and 1950 and reached the semifinals in 1970, but it had faded as a global power and not qualified for three of the previous four World Cups.
“We are starting to receive SMSs and calls and we are absolutely delighted,” coach Oscar Tabarez said. “There are only 3.5 million inhabitants (in Uruguay) and it’s been a long time since we had something like this.”
La Celeste will not have defender Diego Godin available due to a left thigh injury. Forlan has been dealing with a toe problem, but he doesn’t expect to miss Uruguay’s first-ever meeting with Ghana.
Uruguay is one of four South American quarterfinalists, and the only one that won’t face a European opponent.
Uruguay and Ghana will face off at Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium with kick-off set for 20:30 (8:30pm) local time. The referee for this game is Olegario Benquerenca from Portugal.