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The day Suarez’s Uruguay broke Ghana’s African dream

Barcelona“Cry? And so much so that I did, brother. I couldn’t even eat dinner that day. It was a terrible blow for everyone,” says Umar-Farouq (Accra, 1989). Answer questions on WhatsApp from Ghana and relive that agonizing World Cup quarter-final match in South Africa (2010) against Uruguay. He hasn’t forgotten it. Acquaintance with a girl from Torelló (Osona) and a worker at Ghana Cocoa Bord, Umar-Farouq enjoyed and suffered the game with some friends at a neighbor’s electrical repair shop. “Half of the people were on the street, watching the match in pubs, shops or workshops, and the rest, at home, in groups,” he adds. “Football is a game that brings people together.” “It was a great opportunity for Ghana and for all of Africa, to have a semi-finalist for the first time in the history of the World Cup. We were very excited and we were about to do it. Until Suárez woke us up from our dream. The African dream was broken. Because all of Africa felt the sadness, not just us.” The sadness was so great that it is still a semi-taboo topic in the country, that game: “We don’t all want to remember that day. But we have to face the fear, come rain or thunder.” He expects revenge in this Friday’s game (4 p.m., Goal Mundial), on the last day of the group stage: “Yes, brother: a brutal revenge.”

The teams of Ghana and Uruguay, second and fourth in Group H, will meet again with the South African party as the only precedent. That July 2, 2010 in Johannesburg, also home to the final won by Spain, the duel between two of the surprises of the World Cup went to extra time with a tie after goals from Muntari and Forlán, named the best footballer of that edition. In the epilogue of extra time, in the 121st minute, Ghana served a foul in the area: goalkeeper Muslera spat the first shot with his fist and Luis Suárez, the second and third. The third, a header from Adiyiah, was deflected with his hands, like a goalkeeper, on the goal line. “we saved it“, shouted the Uruguayan television, while Olegário Benquerença, of bitter memories at the Camp Nou, expelled the Ajax striker. Ghana had the possibility of overcoming the quarter-finals of Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002), but Gyan’s shot crashed against the crossbar.The match was eventually decided on penalties and Uruguay booked their ticket to the semi-finals with a Panenka-style strike from Sebastián Abreu on Loco.

At the Uruguayan consulate in Barcelona, ​​Andrés (1983) and Camila (1987), born in Montevideo, confess that their children, Joaquín and Tomás, did not go to school to watch football all together “One was sick and we said we would take advantage of it. It’s the World Cup. We told the school that the other had a sick brother and couldn’t go either. I don’t think they can understand. Football is lived with great intensity in Uruguay,” she says, smiling. They perfectly remember the match in 2010. “It’s the best match I’ve seen in my life, by far. It was brutal. Because everything had already escaped us. It was all over,” he points out. Until Suarez appeared: “Luckily he did it. I would have done the same, even if later the English are moralists and say we cheated. He made a hand, they whistled the penalty, he got a red card, they missed it , we passed and he didn’t play the semi-finals,” he explains. Then they still lived in Uruguay and were not yet parents. Now they arrive at the consulate with three children: one from 2014, one from 2016 and one from this 2022. “The eldest was born during the 2014 World Cup. The day before Suárez scored two goals in England. We watched the game in the ‘hospital room”, recalls Andrés.

The two older children already play football and have already seen the video of that match many times. And when they enter the consulate, the first thing they see is a Luis Suárez sticker stuck to the reception desk. They went there to get their first passport: they laughed nervously, embarrassed, because they had never signed one. José Pedro (Tacuarembó, 1980), district consul of Barcelona, ​​says that they are very original firms for their age. Then he tells his father that Ronald Araújo got his passport a few days ago.

“I suffered like crazy”

When the family has already left, he remembers that he lived that match with his wife, still in Montevideo, and suffered “like crazy”. “It was impressive, unbelievable. Crazy, a feat, a party. When they came back from South Africa, after finishing fourth, we welcomed them like they were champions, like 1930 or 1950. It was very beautiful” , explain. If Uruguay cannot get past the group stage and someone has to take that place, José Pedro says it would seem fair, and even good, if it were Ghana.

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