Ghana kept their world cup hopes alive by defeating South Korea 3-2 in a pulsating encounter at the ongoing Qatar FIFA 2022 World Cup. The Group H encounter at the Education City stadium was not devoid of drama, action, and thrills. Ghana had the final say with a 68th-minute winner by Mohammed Kudus. The Ajax forward, who had earlier doubled Ghana’s lead in the 34th minute, was named Man of the Match.
From the start, the Koreans dominated the game. However, Ghana took the lead against the run of play after 24 minutes with Mohammed Salisu, the Southampton defender pouncing on a scuffle within the Korean box to score. The Black Stars doubled their lead about 10 minutes later when Mohammed Kudus safely nodded in from Jordan Ayew’s cross.
Despite Ghana’s lead, the Koreans still dominated play. Their relentless effort was rewarded in the 58th minute when Cho Gue-sung nodded in a cross from Lee Kang-in. Three minutes later, the Koreans dramatically completed a comeback as Cho Gue-sung scored again from a cross-in, this time by Kim Jin-su. However, this would not be sufficient as the Ghanaians fought back to end the game as eventual winners.
The game was not without drama. At the end of the game, disgruntled Korean players confronted the referee over his decision to end the game before a Korean corner was to be taken. South Korea’s coach, Paolo Bento joined the dispute and was swiftly red-carded by the centre referee, Anthony Taylor from England.
It’s Not a Fair Result- South Korea’s Coach
In his post-game interview, Paolo Bento said the result of the game was not fair on his team.
He said “I think we made enough to win the game, to draw would be unfair in my opinion. Of course, we were punished due to some defensive mistakes we made. But in the end, I think our performance, in general, was good with some mistakes but with a lot of opportunities to change the result. We got the draw in the second half, with another mistake, we conceded the third goal, but in my opinion, it’s not a fair result. Of course, I’m not happy with the result but I’m happy with the performance of the players and I’m proud of them as well.”
Man of the match, Mohammed Kudus had this to say during the post-game interview, “it’s a good feeling, we wanted the three points and we got it.”
As Things Stand in Group H
In the other game of the day in Group H, Portugal defeated Uruguay two-nil to ensure their qualification to the last 16. The win left Ghana second on the table and in a comfortable position to qualify out of the group. South Korea and Uruguay each both on one point face a hurdle in qualifying out of the group with South Korea meeting group leaders Portugal next, and Uruguay in a repeat of the 2010 World Cup Quarter-final meets Ghana in a must-win tie for both sides.
The mood in the Ghanaian side ahead of the Uruguay game is more upbeat considering their relatively solid performances so far at the World Cup in contrast to that of the Uruguayans who have failed to score a single goal at the tournament.
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After the defeat against Portugal, the Uruguayan coach has said they are looking for a victory against Ghana. However, the Ghanaians also need at least a draw to be sure of qualification to the round of 16. The game also has a historic resonance as the Ghanaians consider it a chance to avenge the heartbreak of the 2010 World Cup where they were denied the chance of being the first African country to reach a World Cup semi-final by Uruguay.
Positive Performances from the Africans
The Qatar FIFA 2022 World Cup has seen African teams produce sparks of brilliance. On Sunday, Morocco defeated Belgium to sit in a comfortable second place behind Croatia in Group F. Morocco also played out a goalless draw with World Cup runners-up, Croatia in their first game.
In Group A, Senegal has reached the last 16 of the Mundial after defeating Ecuador in their last group game to place second just behind group winners Netherlands. As it stands, three of the five African teams stand a strong chance of reaching the last 16 which will be a record for African teams at the World Cup.