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FIFA World Cup: Uruguay v Ghana – Quarter-Final Preview

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

The forgotten quarter-final sees Uruguay facing off against the last African hope Ghana for a place in the last four.

Uruguay has successfully flown under the radar at the tournament so far. A first up draw against France followed by a convincing 3-0 win over lowly ranked hosts South Africa and a Suarez goal that got them past Mexico saw them top Group A.
A 2-1 victory over South Korea in an evenly matched Round of 16 fixture finds the world 16th ranked Uruguay facing off against 32nd ranked Ghana. Hardly a fixture to set the world on fire when we consider some of the other quarter-final match-ups, but one of these teams are going to be facing Brazil or the Netherlands in a World Cup Semi-Final.
Ghana have already gone further than their only finals appearance in 2006 when they ended up 3-0 cannon fodder for Brazil in the Round of 16. This time they are flying the flag as the last remaining team from the host African continent.
Uruguay on the other hand have bounced back well since failing to qualify for the last World Cup after losing on penalties to Australia in an elimination qualifier. The third ranked South American team is trying to regain some of the former glory it enjoyed as a two time winner of the FIFA World Cup (1930,1950). They have an excellent opportunity to ease past a lower ranked opponent and earn a Semi-final berth. It is 1970 since they last made the top four and their older fans will be daring to dream that they might be returning to the glory days.
Certainly they go into this clash overwhelming favourites. Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez are in good goal scoring form for an attacking unit that has netted six goals so far. The Uruguayan defence is the equal best of the remaining teams in the tournament having conceded only one goal all tournament.
Ghana finished runners up in Group D on the back of a promising first up win over Serbia. An equalising penalty earned a 1-1 draw against a 10 man Australia. Despite a 1-0 loss to Germany in the final pool game Ghana went through on goal difference ahead of Australia.
In the round of 16 they were not rated against a USA team who had topped Group C. Deadlocked 1-1 at fulltime, Gyan found the winner in extra time to produce one of Ghana's finest ever wins.    
Ghana is a team that has paid a price to get where they are though. Strikers Asamoah Gyan and Kevin Prince Boateng are under injury clouds as are defenders Samuel Inkoom and John Mensah. Midfielder Andre Ayew and defender Jonathan Mensah are out with suspension.
Ghana proved they can fight though when their backs are to the wall. Under strength, they finished runners up to Egypt in the final of the CAF African Cup of Nations at the beginning of 2010.
Ghana and Uruguay have never played each other before so this is new territory for both teams. The majority of neutral football fans are going to be picking Uruguay to come out on top, but in a match where coming 2nd means the end of your tournament Ghana will leave nothing in the tank in trying to stay alive.  

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