- Ghana v Urguay – Oh, football can be cruel. Ghana scored three goals in the group stages, two of those were penalty kicks. But we couldn’t find the back of the net when a penalty was awarded at the end of extra-time in the match against Uruguay. The penalty that counted the most. A history-making moment, gone, gone, gone. Such drama. Really, sports can rival the best literature ever written 😉 . I’d stated in my previous post that I didn’t fancy Ghana’s chances against Uruguay. Boy was I wrong. With our youthful legs, we run Uruguay ragged in their search for a goal. My uncle, quite cynically, says that the Ghanaian team can play a sometime uninspired game that is designed to disrupt the rhythm of our opponents. Basa basa, he calls it And that we did. We disengaged Suarez from Forlan. Forlan was forced to attempt goals solo. In the end, Suarez had to resort to a hand ball. What really sunk us is our old problem of not being able to finish off play in front of the opponent’s box with a goal. Goals continue to elude us, alas. I hope future coaches will fix this problem. As I’ve also said before , this team is special. They’ve done us proud. They’ve come home to a grateful nation. I’m very hard on the state of African football. But even I have to admit how well Ghana football has performed since 2006. We were, once again, the only African team to advance to the round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup. We got to the semi-finals and the finals of the 2008 and 2010 CAN respectively. We won the 2009 under-20 FIFA World Cup; the final was against Brazil. And this year, in only our second appearance at the World Cup, we got to the quarterfinals. Ghana is obviously doing something right, especially where youth development is concerned. But we still need to increase audience support for our local leagues, protect our players and our interests especially our foreign-based players etc. Most importantly, we need to show confidence in ourselves and our technical abilities and hire a Ghanaian coach for the national team. I could go on but nuff’ said. Well done, Black Stars!
- Netherlands v Brazil – Well, we all know that football is a physical sport. We often forget the game is also played in our heads. Obviously, Brazil thought that the Dutch could not score a goal against them. How else can I describe what happened? The shock of the Dutch equalizer sent Brazil into a tailspin and in the end they barely resembled the team we had watched in the earlier rounds of the tournament. Talk about playing yourself out of contention. Don’t ask for I won’t tell what I saw when I predicted that Netherlands would beat Brazil. 😉
- Argentina v Germany – This match was a total neutralization and then an annihilation of Maradona and his boys. The shock aside; it was a joy to watch the German speeding bullets simultaneously out-racing the Argentine side as they scored goal after goal and then defending quite magnificently against the deadly offensive line of Messi, Tevez and Higuain. We’ve been hearing the same refrain throughout the World Cup – young, unproven side against a start-studded lineup of European-based players. It is the teams that play as cohesive units, the teams with young players, the teams with the not-so-big stars that are making news at this World Cup. As I’ve said before, all nations must groom young players and include them in their squad. The combination of seasoned players with the athleticism of younger players will get the Germans to the final. I’m loving this fast-paced football.
- Spain v Paraguay – Spain is not living up to the hype. Yes, they won the game. But I’m not convinced . This team does not excite me. And please, can the Spanish coach bench Fernando Torres for the remainder of the tournament? Well done to Paraguay for this getting far in their campaign.
The semifinals will be played on the 6th and 7th of July. The matchups are:
- Uruguay v Netherlands – Uruguay is the only South American team standing. They are looking to recapture their past soccer glory. They are previous holders of the cup, but they’ve not gotten to the semi-finals for 40 years. The Dutch, on the other hand, are considered the best national team never to have won the World Cup. There is a lot to play for and a chance at history for both sides. I predict that Netherlands will win. Uruguay were among my favorite dark horses to win the cup. But now due to the painful ending of the match against Ghana, my eyes cloud over and my mouth tastes bitter at the mere mention of Uruguay. They are also without one of their strikers, Suarez and I’m not sure that Diego Forlan by himself will be successful against the Dutch. The Dutch are playing well, having won all their matches. They are defending well and are strong in midfield. Again, and I like, they are good on swift counter-attacks. Once again, they are favorites to win the cup. They should do themselves and me a favor and take out Uruguay 😉
- Germany v Spain – I simply don’t give Spain a chance against the Germans. David Villa cannot continue most of the attacking and goal-making for this squad. Probably, the best of the star-studded sides at the World Cup. Is it just me or are they playing a bit like the English Premier League club Arsenal? All the Germans have to do is shut down Villa and unleash their spectacular style of play on Spain. The Spanish coach will most likely include Torres in the starting lineup again. This won’t help. Fabregas, who is recovering from injury, will perform better and must be included in the lineup if Spain is to do well. Based on their current form, I think the Germans will prevail.
My language is getting quite militant as we get nearer to the finals :). We are heading for a Netherlands v Germany final. Most of us would not have predicted this at the start of the World Cup or even at the end of the group stages. But that is football.