- Ghana, lying second in Group “H” with three points will be guaranteed passage to the round of 16 with victory against two-time champions Uruguay at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah on Friday from 6pm local and Kenyan time.
Africa’s last two teams to play in the final round of the 2022 World Cup group matches, Ghana and Cameroon, have starkly contrasting prospects for progression to the round of 16.
Ghana, lying second in Group “H” with three points will be guaranteed passage to the round of 16 with victory against two-time champions Uruguay at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah on Friday from 6pm local and Kenyan time.
Ghana coach Otto Addo on Friday said he was fully focused on getting the desired results and not thinking of revenge against Uruguay who controversially knocked the Black Stars out in 2010.
The Black Stars could also advance here in Qatar with a draw, and even a loss if group leaders Portugal (on six points) defeat South Korea (one point) in the other group match that will kick off at the same time.
In contrast, Cameroon (one point), who have had unwanted distractions in camp, face tournament favourites Brazil (six points) in a must-win Group “F” encounter at the magnificent 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium.
And even a win may not be enough for the indomitable Lions, who lead Africa in the most appearances at the World Cup, at eight.
Cameroon will hope that the result of the match between Serbia (one point) and Switzerland (three points) goes their way. Cameroon’s best permutation is a Switzerland loss or a win for Serbia that does not outscore their victory against Brazil.
The Indomitable Lions looked to have reached the end of their range, or have they?
Ghana have defied their recent poor form that saw them fail to get out of the group phase of the 2021 Afcon held this year in Cameroon, to stand on the cusp knockout football in Qatar.
Addo’s bolstering of the squad with players with Ghanaian heritage, including Atletico Bilbao forward Inaki Williams, seems to have transformed this Black Stars to the level where they could very well emulate the 2010 side that reached the quarter-finals, becoming the third African nation to do so in the history of the World Cup.
It is Uruguay who ended Ghana’s march with that Lius Suarez deliberate handball that denied the Black Stars the goal that would have sent them to the semi-finals.
Addo said getting back at Uruguay was the furthest thought from his mind.
“Revenge is not a big topic for me. It is about a player doing everything possible for his team to win. This is normal thing in football. We are preparing to win," Addo said.
“Uruguay have experience, good players and a good mentality. It will be tough match and we have to try and match them,” said Addo.
Suarez threw down the gauntlet.
“We are facing challenging times. We are used to this struggles and suffering. We could have been in a different situation, but we have faced similar challenges like in the qualifiers and we have raised to the occasion. We are ready for the challenge tomorrow,” he said.
There are many African in Doha, many working here but others coming as World Cup visitors who are expected to turn up in numbers to support their brethren.
Ghana lost 3-2 to Portugal in a thrilling group opener before bouncing back to thump an energetic Korean side 3-2 four days later to stay in contention for a last 16 spot.