Friday’s second quarter final fixture between Uruguay and Ghana at Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium will be the first ever meeting between these two sides at senior level. Surprisingly though, the Black Satellites ( Ghana’s u-20 side) drew 2-2 with Uruguay in the group stages of last years U-20 tournament which they went on to win.
Six of the players who won that tournament are now in the senior squad with Andre Ayew being the most notable of them all. The 21 year old will however miss Friday’s match after he picked up a second yellow card in their 2-1 victory over the USA.
Uruguay on the other hand have progressed to the quarters with convincing displays against tough opponents in the form of France, Mexico and South Korea.
Uruguayan coach Oscar Tabarez will looking to strengthen the Olympic sky blues record against African opposition with a win this Friday. In their most notable meetings with African sides, Uruguay managed to beat Algeria 1-0 in a friendly played last year, while they drew 3-3 with Senegal in the group stages of the 2002 tournament.
Going by that record and the impressive Ghana side that we have seen, it will be hard to pick out a clear favourite for the match, however, what you can expect is end to end action as both these sides will be looking to book themselves a semi-final spot.
Uruguay are unbeaten in their last six world cup games a feat that stretches back to the 2002 tournament where they drew their final two group matches.. The last time Uruguay reached this stage of the competition was 40 years ago when they beat Russia (then the USSR) by a single goal to set up a semi-final date with eventual winners Brazil.
Of course we cannot forget that La Celeste are two time world champions and so are clear favourites to win the match. However, the Black stars have in Asamoah Gyan one of the tournaments best strikers and with their perfect blend of youth and experience, they cannot be ruled out.
Ghana is only the third African country to make it to the quarters and they will be looking to go a step further by defeating one of the giants. Gyan himself has already scored three goals so far and he will be looking to score one more to match Roger Milla’s record of five world cup goals.
Some team news for both sides starting with Ghana. The Black Stars are set to miss crucial players Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah who are suspended. While Kevin-Prince Boateng is a major doubt after pulling a hamstring muscle in their 2-1 victory over USA.
Uruguay on the other hand are lucky to only be missing the services of regular starter Diego Godin who is a doubt after sustaining a thigh injury.
Some key players to look out for in the Uruguay side include: Forlan, Suarez (the hero of their South Korean win) and Cavani. In the Ghanaian squad we have: Gyan, Muntari (who is expected to start) defender Vorsah who is back from injury and Samuel Inkoom.
Then comes the hard part, my prediction. Its hard to be thoroughly objective when one of the teams you support is playing, however, i believe Ghana has a very good shot at reaching the semis. I therefore predict a 1-0 win in their favour.
Photo credit: from prismatico