Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Suarez defies a continent single-handed

Suarez defies a continent single-handed

Suarez defies a continent single-handed

AFRICA will never come closer to having its first World Cup semifinalists. First with his feet and then with a save that Robert Green would have paid money for, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez killed the hopes not of a nation but of a continent.

The hyperbole surrounding the build-up to Ghana’s quarterfinal clash with Uruguay was extreme even for the World Cup. All Africa was united, at least in the eyes of the world’s massed media on their month-long sojourn in the Rainbow Republic, cheering on the Black Stars against the South American interlopers.

The script seemed written in Holywood, with a screenplay commissioned by Clint Eastwood. Asamoah Gyan, already scorer of two penalties in the tournament, walked up to the spot and calmly placed his penalty high to the goalkeeper’s left. The crowd erupted in jubilation.

Unfortunately for Gyan, the penalty he had taken minutes earlier in the dying moments of extra time had struck the Uruguayan crossbar and rebounded away for a goal kick. If that one had gone in, Gyan would have sent Ghana into the semifinals, and he would now be the hero of a continent. The one he did net in the shootout casts him in the role of tragic hero.

For the sub-plot, it was Dominic Adiyiah, the 20-year-old substitute whose goal-bound header Suarez had handled on the line, who missed Ghana’s final shootout penalty. In October last year, Adiyiah had netted in the under-20 World Cup final penalty shoot-out against Brazil. Then Ghana had become Africa’s first world champions at under-20 level, now they are only the third African nation to crash out at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup finals.

In the end it was the thickness of a crossbar that condemned Gyan, and the hands of Uruguay’s most prolific scorer that denied Adiyah. The plot played out more ancient Greece than Hollywood.

Much of the post-match fall-out has centred on the hand of Suarez. Did he cheat by stopping the ball with his hand? Uruguay’s coach Oscar Tabarez claims that Suarez’s actions were “instinctive”. Naturally he will leap to the defence of the player who kept his team in the finals single-handed. But Suarez’s handball was the calculated action of a professional footballer. One who now will be celebrated throughout his homeland and in the players’ changing room. All footballers would do the same.

It’s not the fault of the player, nor the referee, who was technically right to award a penalty and show Suarez the red card. The problem was that the punishment did not fit the crime.

Why did Uruguay’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera have the opportunity to stop Gyan’s penalty after being bailed out by Suarez’s hand?

Surely a free penalty without a goalkeeper would be a more appropriate punishment for deliberately handling on the line? Then Gyan would have walked up to take his initial penalty sure in the knowledge that he would be booking his nation its allotted place in history.

MOST VIEWED

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was