By Boris Esono Nwenfor & Sonita Ngunyi Nwohtazie
A thrilling encounter at the Education City Stadium saw the Black Stars of Ghana pick their first victory in the ongoing FIFA Qatar World Cup and saw the side several records in the process.
Mohammed Salisu’s 24th-minute goal and Mohammed Kudus’ brace (34th and 67th minutes) ensured Ghana has now scored in seven consecutive World Cup matches, the first for an African team participating at the FIFA World Cup.
Despite Gue-sung Cho’s brace, the Black stars will hold on to a 3-2 victory, and keep their chances alive of at least a quarterfinal having lost their first group game against Portugal.
This is also the most goals scored by any African team currently at the FIFA World Cup after they netted twice against Portugal in the 3-2 defeat against the European powerhouse.
Otto Addo’s side became the second African team in as many games to notch three goals at these finals – after Cameroon earlier became the first to do so since the Ivory Coast vs. North Korea (3-0) at South Africa 2010.
“It was the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup that a team like Ghana has been able to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament,” Ghana coach Atto Addo said. “The team has been able to get a good result in the last two years, but it’s not going to be easy.”
Salisu shines brightest
23-year-old Mohammed Salisu entered the record books as the first defender to ever score a World Cup goal for Ghana, after netting against South Korea. The centre-back for Premier League side Southampton gave the Black Stars the lead against the Taegeuk Warriors, smashing in from close range after a Ghanaian set piece was poorly defended by the Asian champions.
“It’s a great way to get back into the game,” Salisu said… “But it’s not the only way to get back into the game.”
Salisu, who has just four appearances for Ghana’s national team, made his debut for the Black Stars in their 3-0 defeat to Brazil in an international friendly on September 23 this year. He will be hoping to keep up this fine performance as the Black Stars look to end their World Cup campaign on a high.
Ghana v Uruguay – a grudge match
The pressure was on for Ghana ahead of kick-off, with the Black Stars knowing that defeat here would spell the end of their World Cup campaign with a game to spare. But they responded admirably to the challenge, setting up what promises to be one of the must-watch games of the group stage when they face Uruguay next.
Ghana will battle Uruguay on Friday, December 2, a match that will rekindle old memory and wounds, looking at how it was Uruguay who stopped Ghana from becoming the first African team at the FIFA World Cup semifinal.
The year was 2010 and Luis Suarez intentionally handballed what would have been a Black Stars winner in the last minute of extra time, before celebrating when Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty. Uruguay will win the resulting penalty shootout a win, while Ghana was left with thoughts of what could have been.
A draw for Ghana against Uruguay (depending on the score between Portugal against Uruguay) may just be enough to see the side into the round of 16. Ghana faces Uruguay in the final group fixture, while South Korea – who are the third team to have 20+ shots in a match this tournament and lose, after Germany (26 vs. Japan) and Canada (22 vs. Belgium) – take on Portugal.