Ghana captain Andre Ayew knows there is more to come from Mohammed Kudus, who has cemented his place as one of the young stars of the 2022 World Cup. Kudus, who was excellent in Ghana’s opening defeat to Portugal, scored twice for the Black Stars to help them to a 3-2 win over South Korea last time out. That result means Otto Addo’s team head into their final Group H match, against Uruguay – a fixture that has plenty of history to it – knowing a win would guarantee their place in the last 16, while a draw may also be enough. Kudus, who was close to joining Everton in August, arrived in Qatar having enjoyed a fine start to the season for Ajax, scoring 10 times, and his form at the tournament has been attracting interest from bigger clubs, with Barcelona director Jordi Cruyff confirming the Blaugrana have been tracking the 22-year-old. “We know this, I know this, Ghana knows it now, the world is going to know it. You’ll see, more is coming from my boy.
“Hopefully he can keep on shining because he has a really bright future.” Friday’s match comes over 12 years on from their only previous World Cup meeting in the quarter-finals in South Africa. With the game level at 1-1, Luis Suarez used his hand to block Dominic Adiyiah’s header on the line. The Uruguay striker was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan rattled the crossbar from the resulting spot-kick, before Ghana lost the subsequent penalty shootout. Ghana will take on Uruguay in Group H on Friday knowing that a victory would see them advance to the knockout round of the World Cup alongside Portugal. The Black Stars are currently second in the group, two points ahead of fourth-placed Uruguay, who need to triumph to stand a chance of progressing to the last-16 stage of the tournament in Qatar. Ghana will be looking for revenge against Uruguay following the extraordinary battle between the two teams in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
The South American nation progressed to the final four via a penalty shootout after the two teams finished level at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football, but there was huge controversy late on, with Luis Suarez receiving a red card for handling on the line in the final seconds; Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot kick, which sent the contest to penalties, with Uruguay reaching the final four for the first time since 1970. Ghana can now eliminate Uruguay from the 2022 competition, with the Black Stars currently sitting second in Group H, having picked up three points from their opening two matches at the tournament, losing their section opener 3-2 to Portugal before recording a 3-2 victory over South Korea. A victory would send Otto Addo’s side into the knockout round, while a draw would be enough if South Korea do not beat Portugal, who are already through. Should South Korea triumph against Fernando Santos’s side, then second in the group would be decided on goal difference.
Ghana know their job, and it would be some story if they could progress to the knockout round for the first time since their run to the quarter-finals in 2010, having been eliminated in the group stage in 2014 before failing to qualify for the finals four years ago in Russia. Uruguay have found it difficult to impress at the 2022 tournament, drawing 0-0 with South Korea in their opening match on November 24 before losing 2-0 to Portugal on Monday, which has left them bottom of Group H and facing an early exit from the competition. Diego Alonso’s side will definitely be eliminated if they lose or draw this match, with only a win being good enough. Three points would be enough to advance if South Korea do not beat Portugal, although if both teams triumph, then second in the group will be decided on goal difference.
Uruguay, who famously won the World Cup in 1930 and 1950, certainly know what it takes to advance deep into the competition, having finished fourth at the 2010 competition before reaching the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively in 2014 and 2018. The South American nation have not actually been knocked out of a World Cup in the group stage since 2002, which was the first time that it had happened since 1974, so it would be a surprise to see them fail to progress through the first stage of the finals. La Celeste have found it difficult in their opening two games at the 2022 competition, though, and they will now be taking on a Ghana side out for revenge following their infamous contest in 2010. Ghana have not reported any injury concerns from their clash with South Korea, so it would certainly not be a surprise to see the same starting XI take to the field for this match.
Mohammed Kudus was in brilliant form last time out, scoring twice, and his performances at the tournament have led to suggestions of interest from the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool. Inaki Williams is again expected to lead the line for Ghana, with Jordan Ayew and Andre Ayew also set to retain their attacking roles in the three behind the centre-forward. Meanwhile, Thomas Partey should be joined by Salis Abdul Samed in the middle of midfield. As for Uruguay, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have both struggled to impress at this summer’s tournament, so it would not be a shock to see them start on the bench here. Darwin Nunez could potentially be joined in attack by Maxi Gomez, who was bright off the bench against Portugal, with Suarez and Cavani potentially playing roles later in the contest. Head coach Alonso is likely to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack, with the likes of Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur and Jose Gimenez again certain starters. Ronald Araujo’s fitness has been the topic of debate since the start of the tournament, and the Barcelona defender is again likely to be left out of the squad for this match.