Ghana hopes die on a simple twist of fate
By Kevin Fylan
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Ghana's attempt to set a new high watermark for African soccer failed not for any lack of skill or tactical failure but on a cruel twist of fate that saw a last-gasp penalty miss by less than the width of a crossbar.
Another brave, skilful and supremely committed display from Ghana took them to the brink of a place in the World Cup semi-finals on Friday only for Luis Suarez to deny a goalbound shot with his hand in a goalmouth melee and Asamoah Gyan to lift the resulting spot-kick a fraction too high.
Uruguay, given a reprieve they had no right to expect, went on to win the penalty shoot-out 4-2, after the match at Soccer City had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and a tense half-hour of extra-time went, scarcely credibly, without a goal.
Uruguay, World Cup winners in 1930 and 1950, can savour a return to the glory days with a match against the Netherlands to come, 40 years after they last reached the semi-finals.
That they took their place in the last four was in part down to the brilliance of Diego Forlan, who scored a spectacular free kick to cancel out Sulley Muntari's equally special opening goal, as well as their cool in the shoot-out.
But in the end their victory was down to luck -- luck and the handball from Suarez that their fans will accept as an instinctive reaction in an impossible situation while others will decry it as opportunistic cheating.
Ghana have carried the weight of a continent's hopes at this World Cup ever since five of the six competing African teams went out at the group stage. Continued...