Ghana’s 2010 World Cup campaign was by far the most successful as the Black Stars were just seconds away from a historic semi-final appearance but were made to pay the penalty in the most painful way.
In many ways, that second World Cup appearance in South Africa was remembered for the cruel manner in which Ghana’s impressive run was halted in an unsportsmanlike fashion by Uruguay forward, Luis Suarez, who used his hands to deliberately stop a goal-bound header by Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah, with just seconds remaining on the clock to end regulation time.
Curiously, Asamoah Gyan, whose goals had powered the team to the quarter-final, blasted away the God-sent spot kick which would have made Ghana, the first African side after Cameroun (1990) and Senegal (2002) to reach the penultimate round at football’s biggest platform.
Since then, that penalty miss by Gyan has become a scar on Ghana’s successful campaign in 2010 with the head coach, Milovan Rajevac, building on the team’s impressive performance in 2006 masterminded by his predecessor, Ratomir (Doya) Dujkovic which saw Ghana reaching the second round of the competition.
The first World Cup held in Africa also became the platform for Gyan to build his legendary status as the main architect of Ghana’s impressive run, scoring decisive goals against Serbia, Australia, and the USA.
Rajevac inherited an experienced set of players from the 2006 squad who formed the nucleus of his team. Led by Stephen Appiah, who started a number of games from the bench, the team was built around Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, John Paintsil, Derek Boateng, and goalkeeper Richard Kingson.
Also, youngsters such as Andre Ayew, Samuel Inkoom, and Jonathan Mensah were a key part of that squad, even though players such as Michael Essien and Laryea Kingson missed Rajevac’s final squad.
The absence of these midfield bulwarks notwithstanding, Ghana presented one of the best teams of the tournament whose performance mirrored Africa’s growing impact in the World Cup.
Gyan, who scored the fastest goal of the 2006 competition as Ghana defeated the Czech Republic 2-0, gave the Black Stars the spark with the opening goal of the campaign as the team beat Serbia 1-0 via a late spot-kick.
During that competition, Coach Rajevac had to take a bold decision by starting skipper Stephen Appiah from the bench which allowed John Mensah to be wearing the skipper’s armband and the 39-year-old former Lyon and Rennes player has since hanged his boot.
Appiah, who has also since quit football, has previously served the national team in a different capacity as he was drafted by Coach Kwasi Appiah to be among the technical team when he was appointed as coach of the Black Stars in 2017.
Many years on, Ayew is the only player among the 2010 squad who is currently in the team and he is expected to captain the team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar next month.
Kevin-Prince Boateng also gate-crashed the World Cup party as he decided to ditch the German national team to represent the Black Stars and his half-brother, Jerome Boateng went on to become the first brothers against each other when the Black Stars played against Germany.
Others who were part of that squad such as Kwadwo Asamoah, Samuel Lee Addy, Richard Kingson, Hans Adu Sarpei, Prince Tagoe, Isaac Vorsah, Qunicy Owusu-Abeyie, and Stephen Ahorlu have all since retired while Rahim Ayew and Daniel Agyei are the only players in active football.
He was considered one of the most gifted players on the team and has helped the Black Stars reach the quarter-final of the tournament. Even though the former Juventus star didn’t score at the World Cup, his contribution was invaluable to the team’s success. Until recently when he retired, he had played mainly in Italy including Inter Milan, Cagliari, and Udinese.
Known as the Rock of Gibraltar, the 39-year-old formed a solid partnership with Isaac Vorsah or sometimes Lee Addy at the heart of defence to ensure the Black Stars didn’t concede goals at the 2010 World Cup. His contribution was so important that after serving his two seasons loan spell with Sunderland, he was captured by the French side, Rennes in 2012. He has since retired after making 86 international appearances and scoring three goals.
One of the safest pairs of hands at that moment was goalkeeper, Richard Kingson, and it was his sterling performance at that World Cup that earned him a contract with English Premier League side, Blackpool. Kingson brought the experience from the 2006 World Cup in Germany and kept the post throughout the competition until the penalty shootout against Uruguay where he was replaced by Daniel Agyei.
The German-born Ghana international was one of Ghana’s brightest spots at the 2010 World Cup and his opening goals against the USA at the competition proved very crucial to the Black Stars. His stock rose since playing for the Black Stars and became the centre of European clubs jostling for his signature until he was captured by AC Milan. Boateng is still in active football but has played for clubs including Barcelona, Tottenham, Genoa, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, and Sassuolo among others.
One of the most dynamic right backs at the World Cup was John Paintsil but came under international condemnation for celebrating with the Israeli flag after the Black Stars beat USA 2-1 in the Round 16. The 41-year-old, who made 89 appearances for the Black Stars, has since retired and set up the John Painstil Football Academy where he works as the coach.
Source: Graphic Online
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