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Date: 25 April 2019

  World - Soccer

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A Friday of shocks. Its not Brazil v Ghana in the semis!

[Posted 03 Jul 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
A Friday of shocks. Its not Brazil v Ghana in the semis!

 BeezSports Editor

The Pundits' preferred choices for the first semi-final of the 2010 World Cup are both out! In a Friday of surprises, Netherlands shocked Brazil 2-1 in the earlier quarter-final clash, while Uruguay rode their luck to overcome unfortunate Ghana in the most dramatic scenes ever witnessed in world football. Uruguay left the Soccer City Stadium crowd which backed Ghana shell-shocked after staging emerging as surprise winners last night.

In the first quarter-final match played in Port Elizabeth, Brazil appeared on course to progress to the semi-final after leading 1-0 at Half time through a 10th minute Robinho goal. To many observers, it appeared like Brazil was in a routine passage to the semi-finals enroute the final. Yet the Netherlands had different ideas in the second half.

The Dutch came back fired up in the second half and pegged Brazil back in their own half from relentless attacking football. Friends Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder ran rings around Brazil in midfield with De jong closing down the likes of Kaka and Robinho from midfield. It was not surprising that Netherlands equalised through a Sneijder cross which caused commotion in the Brazilian goal area. Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar collided with team mate Felipe Melo and it was a painful own goal.

Deep into the second half, Sneijder was to haunt Brazil again. In the 68th minute, pressure forced Brazil to concede a corner kick. Robben whipped in a great corner, Dirk Kuyt flicked it onto Sneijder who headed it. 2-1 to the Netherlands.

Brazil responded like a house on fire, and on numerous occasions keeper Maarten  Stekelenburg denied Kaka and company an opportunity to get an equaliser. But in the 73rd minute, Brazil suffered a set-back when, in a moment of madness, Melo fouled Robben and when the Dutch play-maker was on the ground, Melo unnecessarily stamped on him. He was deservedly shown a straight red card.

Despite being a man down, Brazil threw everything they had at Netherlands, but each time they attacked, they either found Stekelenburg or his defence unyielding.

The Dutch could have used their numerical advantage to the fullest, but on numerous occasions missed simple chances to end the match as a contest. They however managed to hold on and in the process, wrote a story of a remarkable come-back against the world's best ranked team.

That victory by Netherlands was just the beginning of a Friday of shocks. A few hours later, Uruguay was to survive the Ghanaian onslaught in Extra-time. They even got away with a deliberate handball when Luis Suarez punched back a goal which appeared to have crossed the line. Though the referee issued a red car and awarded a penalty, which must have been a goal anyway, Uruguay was able to survive after Asamoah Gyan missed from the spot. Uruguay went on to win the penalty shoot-out.

There are posible implications for the loss of Brazil and Ghana. Brazil is reported to have more than 40 000 supporters in South Africa. Their exit could see about 40 000 spaces being available for the semi-finals and finals. Ghana's loss could end the interest of many African supporters in the World Cup. The Black stars were the reason why most African supporters in South Africa remained interested in the tournament. Some sections of the world media have already begun to raise fears that FIFA could see empty stadia seats during the semi-finals and final.

But South African fans have demonstrated their resilience following the loss of Bafana Bafana during the group stages. Some argue that the fans' love and attention got shifted to Ghana as an African nation and Brazil who are followed passionately on the continent.

The loss of Ghana and Brazil from the tournament provides a real test for local fans' love for football. And local fans will want to prove to the world that they can rise above their disappointment. After all South Africa as a nation is already a winner in many other respects by merely hosting the world's biggest sporting tournament. Fears that the stadia seats could be seen empty following the exit of crowd favourites Brazil and Ghana could soon prove to be baseless.


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