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Brazil, Ghana fail to close the deal

Posted by Admin on Jul 2nd, 2010 and filed under Mondial 2010, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

by Nigel Reed|July 2, 2010|CBC|

Ghana's defender John Mensah (L) is comforted by Ghana's midfielder Stephen Appiah (C) and Ghana's striker Asamoah Gyan after he failed to score in the penalty shootouts during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final football match Uruguay vs. Ghana on July 2, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Uruguay qualified for the semi-finals.(Photo STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

In the end Brazil and Ghana lost more than a football match. The Black Stars, carrying the hopes of an entire continent, lost their nerve. Brazil, the most powerful force in the world game, lost the plot.

The Netherlands, probably the best team never to win the World Cup, deserve enormous credit and can now see a clear path to the Final itself. Uruguay, the last team to qualify for South Africa, might just be the last to leave.

2014 and home advantage can’t come quickly enough. Dunga’s ‘defensively responsible’ Brazil gave up two shockers after dominating the Dutch in the first half. But worse was to follow. With plenty of time to respond they lost their shape, their discipline and ultimately, the match.

Felipe Melo’s day started so brightly. The killer pass which sent Robinho away for the opener must feel like a distant memory. His own goal should have been punched clear by Julio Cesar followed by a totally irresponsible red card for a crude stamp on Arjen Robben.

Few teams come from behind to beat Brazil. It is part of the psyche that  has led the South Americans to five World Cups. Yet, against Holland, Brazil simply couldn’t deal with being pegged back. Once Robben and Wesley Sneijder began to believe, the tide turned permanently in their favour.

The Dutch have finally delivered. Whatever happens from here on in, they have proved they can stay the course and not implode as so often in the past. The Samba beat came to an abrupt halt on a day we discovered Brazil are only human too.

Uruguay, it seems, are riding the luck of the Irish. It must rub off on someone, since Ireland itself was cheated out of a berth in South Africa. The tiny South American nation has upstaged its big Brazilian neighbour and held its nerve to reach the semi-finals.

Just when you think you know what’s going to happen – you’re wrong. A game drifting towards a penalty shoot-out was punctuated by a ‘real’ penalty. Asamoah Gyan has caught the eye at this World Cup, but now he’ll be remembered as the man who missed with the last kick of the match.

With history beckoning, Ghana blew the chance to become the first African nation to reach the final four. Gyan slotted home his spot kick in the shoot out but fate wasn’t going to deal him, or the Black Stars, a second chance.

While Uruguay celebrates, spare a thought for Luis Suarez. The man whose goals got his country to the quarter-finals won’t be around to face the Netherlands on Tuesday. His goal-line red card was taken for the team and his absence, in Cape Town, will be a major blow.

Like Brazil, Ghana has only itself to blame. Having weathered the early storm, the last African team standing got in front but couldn’t hold on. Sulley Muntari‘s outrageous 40 yarder was as good as it got but, ultimately, the Ghanaians paid the price for settling for the lottery of penalties.

Brazil will return to Rio and reflect. What might Ronaldinho or Pato have been able to conjure up with the unpredictable Jabulani ball? Ghana, gone but not forgotten, will perhaps learn fortune favours the brave.

The World Cup of surprises continues to surprise. Holland, infamous for infighting, has banished the demons and could go all the way. Uruguay, World Champions 60 years ago, can almost reach out and touch the glory of their forebears. Almost.

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