World Cup Preview: Uruguay vs. Ghana

Three weeks ago, six African teams set out with high hopes for the host continent. Five have fallen by the side and left Ghana to fly the flag high for Africa. In the past, only two African teams (Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002), have ever reached the last eight let alone the Semi-Finals of the World Cup. A Ghana victory today will see history being created for the entire continent. Uruguay on the other hand have won the World Cup twice but they have failed to reach the last eight for 40 years and their players are keen to change that.

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Uruguay

Ranking: 16

Uruguay, a country will only 3 million population and a crazy passion for football are often labelled as the Minnows of South America. They won their last World Cup in 1930 and their President famously remarked “other countries have their history, Uruguay have their football.” That is how much Uruguay love their football and today, they take on a team which they will feel they have a great chance of defeating. Oscar Tabarez will most likely go with his tried and tested 4-4-2 formation with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez leading their attack. Urguay’s defensive record in the World Cup has been very impressive and they have let in only 1 goal so far. Their defender Diego Godin however is injured will miss this match. He will, most likely, be replaced by Mauricio Victorinio. He along with Jorge Fucile, Diego Lugano and Maximiliano Pereira will form Uruguay’s back four. In the midfield, Tabarez will depend on Egidio Arévalo Ríos, Alvaro Fernandez who is expected to replace Alvaro Pereira  and Diego Perez to provide width when they can along with Edinson Cavani.

Luis Suarez has been in great form and has scored three times in four games for Uruguay. He will keep Ghana defender Issac Vorsah who is returning from injury very busy,who will have his work cut out for him in trying to contain the exuberant striker especially since Ghana’s experienced defender Johnathan Mensah is suspended for today’s game.

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Ghana

Ranking: 32

BaGhana, BaGhana! No one gave them a chance when Michael Essien was ruled out of the World Cup due to injury. However, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah, Anthony Annan and Dede Ayew have shown us cynics just how stupid we were to rule out the Black Stars. Ghana play a typical fast-paced, physical African game. But Ghana also have creativity through Kevin-Prince Boateng which is sometimes seen lacking in other African teams. Their hard work in strengthening their defence ever since they lost Michael Essien seems to be paying off. Milovan Rajevac’s will be without many of his key players today. Jonathan Mensah and Andre Ayew are both suspended for today’s match due to picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament last time out.

Captain John Mensah is still struggling to get fit and did not train with team, however he is expected to start today. Kevin-Prince Boateng could also miss out on today’s game due to a hamstring injury and could be replaced by Rahim Ayew or Derek Boateng.

Rajevac will, most likely, go with a 4-3-5 formation with Kingson in goal and John Pantsil, Johnathan Mensah, Issac Vorsah and Hans Sarpei forming Ghana’s back four. Sully Muntari who has so far been used only as a substitute in South Africa will start for  Ghana in midfield along with Samuel Inkoom, Anthony Annan, Kwadwo Asamoah and Derek Boateng. The Rennais striker Asamoah Gyan and Rahim Ayew will, most likely,lead Ghana’s attack up front.

Uruguay are strong at the back and have the best forwards in the competition at par with the likes of Brazil and Argentina. Ghana’s defense on the other hand has never been very strong and today they are without some key players. This tips the balance too much in favour of the South Americans.

Manager Speak

“If we win tomorrow the only sides that will have done more than us are the great World Cup champions.” – Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay manager

“We have no obligation but still we want to use this opportunity to do our best and to make history. We are not thinking of pressure.” – Milovan Rajevac, Ghana manager

Stars To Watch Out For

Uruguay: Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani

Ghana: Asamoah Gyan, Kwadwo Asamoah, Richard Kingson

Go Figure!

This is the first full international between these two teams

All three of Diego Forlán’s World Cup goals are against African nations

Asamoah Gyan requires one more goal to match Roger Milla’s African record of five World Cup goals.

Uruguay have conceded one goal in this World Cup

No African side has ever won a World Cup knock-out match without the game going to extra-time

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