Sports

Can Ghana’s sharpness overcome the pacy Koreans?

Ghana, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, surprised the Portuguese. Will they do the same with the South Koreans?

Who: South Korea vs Ghana, Group H

When: Monday at 16:00 (13:00 GMT)

Where: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

FIFA Ranking: South Korea 28, Ghana 61

As the final whistle blew, Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa bowed his head and solemnly walked off the pitch. It was an uncharacteristic reaction from someone who had finished his World Cup debut on the winning side. The Ghanaian striker Iñaki Williams was responsible for Costa’s bad mood.

Moments earlier, Costa had been surprised by Williams when he was taking a goal kick. Williams had fallen behind in goal and pounced on Costa the moment he left the ball. Williams’ cunning caught Portugal by surprise, and out of nowhere, they had an empty goal to shoot into. But that’s where his luck ran out. He slipped winning the ball, and his tame shot didn’t even reach the goal.

Soccer tournaments are highly dependent on margins. Had Williams not slipped, Ghana would have made it 3-3. The four teams in the group would then have obtained a point. But it did, and as a result, the Black Stars enter their next match against South Korea meaningless and bottom of their group. margins.

Inaki
The Portuguese Diogo Costa is caught off guard by the Ghanaian Iñaki Williams [Hannah Mckay/Reuters]

Arriving as the lowest ranked team in the tournament, little was expected of this Ghanaian side. But what they lack in quality, they make up for in tenacity. They pushed Portugal to the max and were unlucky not to come away with at least one point.

Led by their tireless captain, André Ayew, Ghana showed in their opening game that they are not going to get carried away. Mohammed Kudus, the 22-year-old Ajax midfielder, is the X factor of this Ghanaian team, and his sudden movements created problems for Portugal.

But doubts remain about their defense, which capitulated in the second half. Portugal’s three goals flattered his performance of the night.

Ghana now play against a team that failed to get a shot on goal in their opening game, but have the pace to unsettle Ghana.

South Korea’s goalless draw against Uruguay was the first time both teams had failed to shoot on goal in a World Cup match this century.

Kims’ defensive quartet of the Taeguk Warriors deserve credit for keeping a clean sheet against an attack featuring Darwin Núñez, Luis Suárez, Federico Valverde and Edinson Cavani. Ayew and his team will have their work cut out for them against this South Korean side, who have prevented their opponents from scoring in their last three games and have conceded just six goals in their last eight games.

Son Heung-min wore a mask in the match against Uruguay, but the South Korean superhero was largely ineffective. While he has struggled to form for Tottenham this season, he remains South Korea’s most potent force and has scored four goals in his last seven appearances for his country. South Korea’s pace is his main strength.

It is a crucial game for both sides. A win would boost South Korea’s chances of qualifying and they could go into their final game against an imagined Portugal with the peace of mind of already having four points on the board.

Ghana needs to avoid defeat to stay in the competition. They will face Uruguay in a tantalizing final group match, seeking revenge on Suárez’s handball clearance in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals.

Suarez
Suárez’s flagrant handball against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup [Action Images/Carl Recine]

That extra motivation could help them cross the finish line against Uruguay if they start that game with their qualifying chances intact. The possibilities are exquisite.

For that, they first need to secure points against South Korea, against whom Ghana hold the lead in their head-to-head record, having won four of the seven games they have played. The last time they met, Jordan Ayew’s hat trick lifted Ghana to a 4-0 win.

Both sides would likely settle for a narrower victory this time. Again, it could come down to the margins.

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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