The ball goes in and Ghana are about to grow to be the primary African group to achieve a World Cup semi-final. There isn’t a approach again for Uruguay. Not within the final moments of extra-time. However Luis Suarez is about to alter issues with one of the well-known handballs in historical past.
That instinctive motion offers the scrumptious backstory to one in every of soccer’s extra unlikely rivalries. Twelve years on from South Africa in 2010, Ghana and Uruguay are reunited and as soon as once more World Cup progress is on the road. As soon as once more, Suarez stands in the best way.
Derek Boateng was on the bench for Ghana when the drama unfolded in Soccer Metropolis, Johannesburg. He watched on as Suarez was purple carded, noticed Asamoah Gyan miss the ensuing penalty and was helpless as the next penalty shootout was misplaced.
“I forgive him,” Boateng tells Sky Sports activities.
“You recognize as a footballer in that state of affairs. I all the time say that to individuals. I used to be speaking to my spouse and I mentioned that if I had been in that state of affairs to assist Ghana I’d do it as a result of I’ve to defend my nation and I do no matter I’ve to do to defend my nation.
“All of the followers are speaking about revenge, revenge, revenge. However I don’t consider in revenge in soccer. We simply should go there and play our sport, follow our plan, do the proper issues on the proper time and win the sport… However the followers have a special opinion to us.”
Boateng’s spouse amongst them, it appears.
Some years later, the remainder of the world having lengthy moved on, Boateng was taking part in for Eibar in opposition to Suarez’s Barcelona. “After the sport I modified my shirt with him, so I introduced the shirt house and I put it within the laundry and my spouse noticed it,” he recollects.
“I used to be sitting within the sitting room watching the TV and he or she got here in entrance of me and requested me, ‘So, of all of the gamers you had been taking part in in opposition to you may not see anyone to alter the shirt with, solely Suarez?’ I mentioned, ‘Come on, that is nothing, it’s a soccer match.’
“I haven’t got something private in opposition to him. Lots of people in Ghana nonetheless maintain that grudge however for me, no. I do not maintain something in opposition to him.” Many others see the state of affairs reasonably in another way. Boateng’s spouse included. “She requested me to take it out of the home.”
Suarez’s exuberant celebrations on the touchline didn’t assist the temper, then or now. An instantaneous nationwide grief had engulfed the Ghanaian individuals and right here was the person whose foul had brought about it, revelling within the temper. It was comprehensible. It was painful.
However how important will it’s when Group H reaches its conclusion on Friday? A draw could be sufficient for Ghana however Uruguay should beat them to have any hope of progressing. Don’t wager on there being too many cool heads in Accra however they are going to be wanted in Qatar.
“The gamers there now weren’t even taking part in within the 2010 World Cup. The one participant there’s Andre Ayew. He’s the one one who went to South Africa. The remainder of them, I do know they’ll play their regular sport and present they will win the sport.
“I hope we do not take into consideration revenge. I hope we simply take into consideration the sport. We’ve got a bonus over Uruguay. They should win, so they may come laborious at us. They’ll use all their expertise so we should be courageous and simply transfer the ball and keep compact.”
Whether or not this Ghana can do that’s unclear. They got here into this World Cup because the lowest-ranked group within the event after a depressing Africa Cup of Nations firstly of the 12 months. Drafting in Inaki Williams, Mohammed Salisu and Tariq Lamptey has helped.
It’s asking so much to anticipate them to gel rapidly. The circumstances had been totally different in 2010. Fairly than crashing out of the AFCON, that group had reached the ultimate. Seven of the beginning line-up from that sport additionally began within the World Cup quarter-final.
“In our time we had a very strong squad. Even if you happen to see our bench, gamers had been taking part in repeatedly for his or her golf equipment in high leagues. We had a really robust group. When I’m in Ghana, individuals all the time say, ‘Derek, your group and this group are totally different.’
“However I say to them that our time has handed. That is their time now. We’ve got to assist them. We’ve got to do every thing in our energy to assist them to allow them to obtain their desires as a result of they give the impression of being as much as us. We’re the outdated gamers.”
However does he not marvel what might need been? Had Gyan’s penalty been hit somewhat decrease and located the online then Ghana would have been via to the final 4 of the World Cup. Solely an unconvincing Netherlands aspect might have saved them out of the ultimate then.
“I all the time say that if an African nation wins the World Cup, that second is meant to be. Every little thing occurs for a purpose. That day was not our day. Asamoah was the one participant who had been taking the penalties. He had been taking them and scoring.
“I have no idea why he missed that penalty however it’s a sport and on this sport, that occurs. Generally the most effective gamers on this planet make errors. It’s soccer. Now we’re within the World Cup once more and we hope we are able to do some miracles.”
As for Suarez, they will solely hope he doesn’t deny them once more. Did Boateng ever do as his spouse had instructed and take away a sure garment from the property? “I hid the shirt. I’ve simply put it on the wall of my home now. Within the video games room. She would not go in there.”