Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 28-Ghana hold the Socceroos on the Road to Nowhere (2010)

Following their humiliation at the hands of Germany in the first game Australia had to get their scrambled minds back together and ready themselves for their second match of the 2010 World Cup which would be against Ghana in Rustenburg. Ghana had come off an impressive win against the Serbs with the team taking a liking to playing in their own continent in a World Cup for the first time and looking hungry.

Pim Verbeek had been belted from pillar to post in the media and everywhere else following the 4-0 hammering by Germany and the mood was low as many Australian supporters made the very long and cold trek up to Rustenburg – a city not too dissimilar to Alice Springs. Verbeek swung the axe and dropped Grella, Chipperfield and Garcia with Cahill suspended. Into the side came Holman, Carney, Kewell and Bresciano in what was a more attacking line up than the 5-5-0 formation they had for Germany.

The supporters finally arrived in Rustenburg on a sunny afternoon with the ‘stadium’ miles from the city centre and surrounded by red dust. Some Kiwis who had watched their All Whites snatch an unbelievable draw in the last seconds against Slovakia at the same venue a couple of days beforehand decided to stay behind to give the Australians a bit of a welcome and reminder about what had happened in Durban in the first match. With the kick off time approaching, many made their way to the inadequate temporary bars in an inadequate park next to the inadequate ground in order to calm the nerves; which weren’t helped by the realisation Australia had to get something from the game by watching Holland defeat the Japanese on an inadequate big screen TV.

Australia were on the attack from the start and after only two minutes they had a rather legitimate penalty claim turned down when the young defender Addy was turned inside out by Kewell with the Ghanian’s trailing leg catching Kewell and bringing him to ground. Australians seethed over the decision by the ref as they poked and prodded against an opposition not really all there at the back due to injuries. Addy again was at fault when he tried to shepherd the ball to his keeper but they collided and the loose ball was desperately cleared by a teammate.

On 8 minutes Australia won a free kick just outside the area and had a chance to go ahead for the first time in a World Cup match since that lovely afternoon against Japan. Bresciano took the right footed shot that wasn’t that powerful but the keeper Kingston only managed to parry the ball directly into the path of Holman who squeezed the ball in the net to put Australia ahead with their fans at the other end of the stadium initially not sure if it was a goal but then celebrating with gay abandon. The boy who always looked like a Labrador chasing a tennis ball when in the green and gold had scored for his country in the World Cup.

Australia continued to dominate as Ghana looked cowed and the opposite of the side that had done the same to Serbia but on 20 minutes they had their first flash at goal when from 20 yards out Boatang had his shot deflected for a corner. Neill and Moore held strong at the back as Ghana started to find more of the ball and looked for a way back in the match.

Then on 24 minutes it was Australia’s turn to make a horrible mistake..actually make that a few horrible mistakes. From a short corner Wilkshire kept Ayew at bay and won the ball but then as he tried to pass he was stripped of the ball by Ayew. The Ghanian squared the ball which somehow went past two of his teammates before a third managed to get a shot on target. In the chaos Schwarzer was nowhere near it but somehow it was cleared off the line by Kewell. The trouble was Kewell had cleared the ball with his hand and he was not the goalkeeper. A penalty was given and despite Kewell and his teammates protests, he was sent off just like Cahill had been in the first game against Germany.

Gyan, a deadly striker with deadly dance moves put Schwarzer the wrong way and gave Ghana a quite unjustified equaliser before dancing in front of the Australian fans.

Now Ghana were the ones on the attack as Australia tried to reorganise themselves and get grips on the fact they had gone from dominating the game to now being a man down. Prince Tagoa (not a real Prince) found himself with space and time but shot when he should have passed minutes after the goal. Australia finally settled and started to defend deep and control possession. After Moore did his usual party trick of hacking down a striker the resulting free kick was put straight into the wall. With moments to go before half time Carney was robbed of the ball and his opponent waltzed in to the penalty area only for Schwarzer to make a brilliant fingertip save. Australia survived the half time 1-1.

Ghana came out with more purpose in the second half but Australia held firm and kept their opponents to speculative shots from far out. Australia went a little more defensive half way through the second half when Chipperfield came on for the more attacking Bresciano as they started to believe that perhaps a draw might do.  Minutes later Australia had the chance they would regret for the rest of the tournament.

Wilkshire, the hard man who made the mistake that started the chain-reaction to the Ghana goal, received a great pass from Emerton on the right and launched down the wing before putting a brilliant cross for Chipperfield who mistimed his jump and headed over inside the penalty box when it would’ve been easier to score. Hands in heads, pith helmets thrown on the running track around the pitch, people wondering whose round it was. Ghana then took the ball up the other end and almost scored when a ball was nearly tapped in at the far post after Moore again had been outpaced.

With Kennedy on for Holman Australia looked for a goal that didn’t seem likely when Kewell was getting his marching orders but they couldn’t get a shot on target. Then Australia had another massive chance when Carney won the ball and slid the ball to an unmarked Wilkshire in the box who couldn’t get his simple finish in the back of the net. The saved ball deflected to Kennedy who couldn’t twist his massive frame around to tap the ball in. More heads in hands. More objects thrown. More arguments about whose round it was.

Moore was beaten a few times during the match and finally lashed out with a tackle most definitely taught in the training grounds of Glasgow Rangers. The former captain received a yellow card and would miss the final group game with this game being his last in the Green and Gold. The young West Australian Rukavystya came on towards the end to try and run at the Ghana side but they held on and Australia were denied a deserved three points.

As Australians trundled out of the ground and back to their buses or cars for another horrendous drive through the freezing night thoughts turned to what could have been from this match. Ghana just didn’t turn up but Australia didn’t capitalise on their chances. There was also the sending off which was a red any day of the week although Kevin Muscat, of all people, didn’t agree when calling the game on Australian TV. A memorable moment though from Australia’s World Cup history and they were left to hope Ghana would show up in the final group and game and beat the mighty Serbs.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.

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