The camera zooms in on a man the entire world is watching. Amid the noisy Vuvuzelas, the rhythmic sounds from Asamoah Gyan’s heartbeat could be heard by every Ghanaian watching the game as it echoed in theirs.
Hand of Suarez: Ghana and Gyan's biggest doom in FIFA World Cup tournament
ACCRA, GHANA: It has been 12 years of football pain. Ghana has the chance to revenge that 2010 FIFA World Cup incident with Luis Suarez. But the wounds could just deepen for the Black Stars. Football's emotion mode activated for the top Group H tie.
His determination, more than ever, scribbled on his face as his eyes close in on the ball on the spot.
This was a man who had showed he was up for the task when it mattered most. Before this significant moment of his career, he had pulled off an extra time miracle in the game against the United States of America, helping his country make their first Quarter-Final appearance at a FIFA World Cup for only the second time trying.
Forcing his way through two American defenders with strength and guts, the showman that Gyan is, catches a sweet volley on his left foot as the Jabulani flies into the net, a goal that proved to be the winner and Ghana’s ticket to the Quarter Final of the 2010 FIFA World. His all-time favourite goal for the Black Stars.
As Gyan stood behind the ball at the Soccer City Stadium, the situation was different from what had happened in the previous game. There were no defenders to stop him. It was just him, the ball, the goalkeeper and the goal. The pressure was high, the task, extremely nerve-racking.
Asamoah Gyan takes a left step backwards and paddles the right to kick off his run towards his penalty spot.
He strikes the ball with all the strength and venom in his right leg. A sound clicks as the ball strikes the bar and goes over the goal.
In a moment, the only sound on the entire continent was that of the Uruguay players and their fans who celebrated the miss.
Hearts sank in Ghana and its solemn dejection resonated across the length and breadth the continent. Africa had only one hope and although it was not over, the continent had to put its trust in a minimum five more of the chance they had failed to take - a penalty shootout.
It will eventually be over for Ghana. Despite Ghana put in disarray, one man’s sorrow was heartbreaking. Asamoah Gyan could not hold back the tears for missing the penalty against Uruguay that would have made the Black Stars the first African country to make the semifinal in a FIFA World Cup tournament.
The cause of all this drama - Luis Suarez.
In the eyes of Uruguay and their fans who watched the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Suarez was a hero. With the Ghana’s game against the South Americans almost over and done with, the Black Stars had a glorious chance to go ahead with Dominic Adiyiah’s goal bound header punched out by Luis Suarez.
The Uruguay forward was shown a red card. Looking dejected on his way to the dressing room, Suarez’s mood immediately changed with the former Liverpool striker celebrating, all tears instantly disappearing from his face. Suarez took a chance for his country and that chance paid off.
Asamoah Gyan’s bite into the neck of his shirt while getting some motivation from teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng went on, among other postures to become history. Ghana’s loss. Africa’s loss. And overall one of the most iconic incidents in FIFA World Cup history. Ghana versus Uruguay would never be the same again. Then came 2022.
The gods of football have a unique way of spicing up the game. 12 years on after one of the most pivotal moments in Ghana football, a FIFA World Cup draw put the Black Stars and Uruguay in the same group.
Right from the start, fans in the West African country dubbed the clash as a revenge mission for Coach Otto Addo’s side. However, the Black Stars coach does not want to go into the game with a revenge mentality.
“The good thing is that, in the end, a draw could also be good for us, but we want to win this game. I’m not too much thinking about revenge. It’s for me a normal game,” Black Stars Coach Otto Addo told the Ghana Football Association media.
“Surely, I also was really, really sad in 2010 when I watched the scenes and yeah it was a big chance for Ghana to proceed to the next stage but it’s yeah 12 years ago and now it’s different. It’s a different match, different approach. Also, for me, it’s not revenge and I’m not a person who’s seeking revenge,” he added.
With no assurance of what to expect, the tie between the two sides has already created a hype for itself based on results in Group H of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ghana lost their first game to Portugal before beating South Korea in their second group game of the tournament with 3 points. Uruguay, who opened their tournament with a goalless draw against South Korea were beaten by Portugal in their second game and have 1 point.
Going into the final group game, the Black Stars of Ghana need a win or draw to have a chance of qualifying for the next round of the completion. Uruguay need a win to have any chance of progressing into the Round of 16.
The expectations are high for Ghanaian fans who are looking to get one over Luis Suarez and his Uruguay counterparts. Suarez knows what that act in 2010 has done to how he is perceived by Ghanaians fans. However, he feels he did what he had to do for his team, faced the consequences with Ghana failing to take the chance given.
Speaking ahead of the game against Ghana on Friday, December 2, 2022, Luis Suarez said:
“The first time, I don't apologise about that,” the Uruguayan said.
“I take the handball - but the Ghana player miss a penalty, not me. Maybe I apologise if I injure a player but in this situation, I take a red card, the referee says penalty, it's not my fault. I didn't miss the penalty. It's not my fault.”
The man who missed the penalty is Ghana’s former captain of the Black Stars, Asamoah Gyan.
In an interview with Pulse in 2019, Africa’s leading goalscorer at a FIFA World Cup tournament said:
“I felt sad, I wanted to go there and score for my nation, for the whole of Africa, and then I couldn’t bury the ball at that time, I felt like I let everybody down. But I had to compose myself and say to myself ‘It’s one of those things’”.
Gyan will be watching the game from the Super Sports studios in South Africa where he is on punditry duties for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He will have no say on the pitch like he did in 2010 when Ghana play Uruguay at the Al Janoub Stadium.
However, based on his reactions from the 3-2 win for Ghana over South Korea, the all-time top goalscorer for Black Stars will be restless for the entire duration of the game - just as he was at the studio against the Koreans, and just like every Ghanaian in the stadium, behind the millions of television sets and across the globe.
The hand of Suarez will stay in the minds of Ghanaians who love football and even ones who don’t. The next tie against Luis Suarez’s team will not wipe out the old pain as Ghana tries to make amends in one of their biggest dooms in international football. A semi-final in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was at stake in the last heartbreak by Uruguay.
Qualification out of Group H beckons for the Black Stars. Will this be a consolation for 12 years of pain and what could have been or will Suarez and team deepen the wounds that remain fresh for Ghana?
The latter will be devastating for many Ghanaians who want to see their team get one over Uruguay with Suarez involved because the next meet may be a little too late - and most likely without Suarez.