The day after Ghana’s loss to Uruguay in the 2-4 penalty shootout in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, South African newspaper The Mercury came out with a powerful headline and colorful photo montage. Under the title “Devil’s Hand”, an angry Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was depicted, who was painted with red horns. It’s been 12 years since that memorable African World Cup match, but people in Ghana still vehemently hate the striker who kicked the ball off the goal line with his hands in the last seconds of stoppage time.
It is quite possible that no one would have mentioned Luiz’s game if Black Star forward Asamoah Gyan converted the penalty for this violation. If he had managed to send the ball into the goal, Ghana would have become the first African team in history to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. A run, a powerful blow … and a hit on the crossbar!
A few seconds later, the referee blew the final whistle and sent the teams to get ready for the penalty shootout. After 20 minutes, Africa was covered by a wave of despair, for which all the inhabitants of this region seek revenge. And they had this incident the day before yesterday, December 2, in the match of the 3rd round of the 2022 World Cup. However, it did not work out, because Uruguay won this confrontation with a total score of 2:0. However, none of these teams managed to reach the playoffs.
Now back to the scandalous goal of Suarez.
Suarez, after Gyan’s miss, shouted: “Go-o-o-o-o-o-l!”
After the handball, Louis tried to deceive the referee. He pointed to Jorge Fusile, who was next to him, on the goal line – he hoped that it would be difficult to figure out who exactly broke the rules. “Jorge still missed the next meeting because of the large number of warnings,” said Suarez. But the referee clearly knew who was to blame, and sent the violator to the locker room. For this, Luis was hated even more, remembering how he loves to bite – in the same year, the Ajax forward was disqualified for seven games for biting an opponent.
«I cried. Seriously. Crying like a girl”
He walked into the room under the stands to the sounds of a vuvuzela (approx. a horn about a meter long, often used by fans at football matches in South Africa), reminiscent of a funeral march coming from hell. There is only one thought in my head: “What have I done?”. There was no chance that this guy would not score, in my opinion. But then I heard the dull ringing of the crossbar and shouted with all my might: “Go-o-o-o-ol!”. Yes, there was no goal, but the feeling was such that I myself sent the ball into the net. Unforgettably!”
Luis wanted to stay near the entrance to the tunnel, but the steward asked him to leave, so the Uruguayan watched the game on TV in the locker room. A few minutes before the start of the penalty shootout, the attacker received a call from his wife, who was nine months pregnant. Despite her husband’s ban on watching the game, she couldn’t find a place for herself – she was worried when Louis was removed and wanted to hear his voice. They watched the penalty shootout together, albeit from different parts of the world.
The players made the first five approaches to the point without misses, including a successful overtime loser Gyan. But then, thanks to the good work of the opponent’s goalkeeper, Uruguay was one step closer to the quarterfinals. A moment later, Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera pulled the blow of the Ghanaians.
To qualify for the semi-finals, it was necessary to score Sebastian Abreu, whom everyone called “Mad”. However, during the penalty shoot-out, he lost his nerve – he turned away when his teammates hit the goal, and constantly asked: “Does the goalkeeper know something or is he just jumping on the shot?”. As a result, he annoyed everyone so much that Captain Forlan could not stand it and said: “Enough! Go and do it right!” At that moment, no one took his words seriously, but Abreu realized something – no one expected such audacity in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Seba was preparing for a strike for a long time, deliberately ran up almost from the center circle and scored. Emotions were so overwhelmed that the Uruguayan doctors had to give ammonia to the fainted substitute goalkeeper Juan Castillo. Suarez at that time was already triumphant with everyone on the field. “I have never run 100 meters so fast in my life,” the striker ironically.
Luis’ nomination for the 2010 World Cup Goalkeeper Award?
In the morning, Suarez’s phone was bursting with messages, one of which made him laugh a lot. “Dude, it was phenomenal! I think that you should be nominated for the award of the best goalkeeper of the World Cup! – Laughed at the striker teammate from Ajax and the goalkeeper of the Netherlands national team Marten Stekelenburg.
In the semi-finals with the Netherlands, Louis could not play due to disqualification (the Uruguayans, by the way, lost with a score of 2:3), his participation in the bronze medal match with the Germans was also in question. The Africans demanded that Louis be suspended until the end of the tournament for a foul with Ghana, but the FIFA commission did not find convincing evidence for this. The participation of Suarez in the game with Germany did not help – although he scored with an assist on Forlan, in general, luck turned away from him, as well as from the team. Louis did not realize two one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and Forlan, in the last seconds of the meeting lost with a score of 2:3, hit the crossbar from a free kick. And yet, the Uruguayans returned to their homeland as heroes. The Sky Blues reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 40 years. Upon returning home, at the parade in Montevideo, the fans sang: “This is not the hand of God, this is the hand of Suarez. Let the woman who gave birth to him be known!”
African attacks on Louis continued after the World Cup, but he took it calmly: “I had a thousandth of a second to react, and besides, I was pretty exhausted after 120 minutes of football. So I made an instinctive decision, I have nothing to blame myself. I would call it professional instinct. I am convinced that Gyan in my place would have done the same. Thanks to my hand, Uruguay reached the semi-finals. I didn’t feel like I deceived anyone. Rather, on the contrary, I sacrificed myself. I gave everything for the team and the country.
Gyan had a much harder time. He was like a lucky guy who hit the jackpot but forgot where the winning ticket went.”
Instead of glory and an almost guaranteed title of the best player in Africa in 2010, the striker received curses and trauma in his address. Asamoah often looked at that ill-fated penalty and could not understand what went wrong, because he always confidently approached the point – at the 2010 World Cup, he easily figured out the goalkeepers of Serbia and Australia for the match with Uruguay. Two years later, Gyan suffered deja vu: he missed a penalty in the semi-final of the African Cup with Zambia, and the Black Stars were eliminated from the tournament.
«You can lose to anyone but Uruguay»
After the April World Cup draw in Qatar, the whole of Africa was buzzing – Uruguay fell out to Ghana again, and it did not take long for the fans to forget about this situation. “This wound will bleed for a very long time. I’m glad that we have a reason for revenge. It’s time to put everything in its place, ”said Kurt Okraku, president of the Ghana Football Association.
Even the president of the country, Nana Akufo-Addo, commented on the upcoming meeting: “This time, not a single hand of Suarez will save Uruguay from the “black stars” of Ghana! Guys, you can lose in this World Cup to any other team, but not to Uruguay.
35-year-old Suarez still plays for the Sky Blues, although he comes out mainly as a substitute. Since 2010, only Andre Ayu has remained in the Ghana national team. He remembers these events well and said before the match that historical justice must win: “Africa and the Ghanaian people deserved a great victory.”
The hero of the penalty shootout, Abreu, on the contrary, considered the new meeting with Uruguay to be of little note because of the completely different context of the duels. The same opinion was shared by Diego Forlán, who equalized the score that day before the penalty shoot-out.
«A rematch? If the players of the Ghana national team see it this way, we have no influence on it. Let that be their motivation.”
However, the miracle did not happen.
Like 12 years ago at the 2010 World Cup, the match between Ghana and Uruguay decided the fate of both teams at the World Cup. Unless now at least one of these teams had to fly out earlier – not in the quarterfinals, but after the group stage. The Africans could afford to draw (although in this case they remained dependent on the result of the meeting between Portugal and South Korea), but the South Americans needed a victory with the desired score.
The Black Stars responded with their 4-4-2 to the 4-4-2 of the Uruguayans, at least in defense, captain Andre Ayew was often on the same line with center forward Mohammed Kudus. Rivals sought to meet each other higher.
The 2010 match made me remember not only the appearance of Luis Suarez at the base of the Uruguay national team. As then, the fate of Ghana was essentially decided by a missed penalty. However, this time in the middle of the first half. Kudus created this attack and earned a 11-meter kick himself – goalkeeper Sergio Rochet was reaching for the ball, but hit his leg. However, the judges first recorded offside. Only modern technology “on the verge of fantasy” helped to determine that there was no offside position – Matias Olivera broke the line. However, Rochet corrected himself by parrying a far from perfect Andre Ayew shot from the spot. This mistake by the team leader seems to have knocked the Ghanaians down.
Suarez, by the way, like 12 years ago, received a card in the match against Ghana. True, not red, but yellow. For undisciplined behavior – hit the ball before the whistle. At the same time, the Uruguayan striker argued with the referee so much that he risked running into and leaving the field. Interestingly, in the career of Louis at the World Cup there are no more cards, except for those earned in meetings with the Ghanaians. But other than that, Suarez has been useful, he is still capable of a lot. One and a half times before being replaced by Edinson Cavani, the striker made 29 touches of the ball, on his account one hit and a key pass, two strokes, 8 martial arts won out of 11, four fouls earned on himself and a selection.
He allowed only five losses of possession – he kept the ball well.
Everything was going in favor of Uruguay, but suddenly Suarez clutched his head and almost cried on the bench! In the final minutes, Louis and his teammates learned that South Korea had taken the lead in the parallel match against Portugal, scoring the second goal in Portugal. Uruguay defeated Ghana again. But this time the story did not repeat itself, because both teams went home.