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African All Stars

Andre Ayew let Ghana down when they needed him most

5:09 am AEDT 3/12/22
Andre Ayew & Otto Addo of Ghana
The Black Stars Fall at the first hurdle of the World Cup, when progression was in their grasp

Andre Ayew and Luis Suarez now both know how it feels to sit on the sidelines, helpless, as their side crash out of a World Cup.

For Dede, history repeated itself on Friday, as Ghana were defeated 2-0 by Uruguay to miss out on a spot in the knockout stages.

12 years ago, during the infamous clash between the pair at Soccer City, Ayew watched on from the sidelines, having been suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Replaced by Sulley Muntari on the day, he was impotent as the Black Stars were dumped out of the tournament on penalties, following Suarez’s controversial intervention and missed penalties from Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah.

This time it was Suarez’s turn.

Replaced by Edinson Cavani in the 66th minute, Suarez could only watch on in vain as Uruguay attempted—and failed—to score the third goal they needed to have eclipsed South Korea, after news had filtered in that the Asian giants had defeated Portugal in the group’s other concluder.

At least Suarez had made his mark on this match, with his lively tenacious performance, and equaliser for Giorigian de Arrascaeta’s second goal enough to secure the victory…and, at the time, progress to the Last 16.

Suarez had his chance and he took it, as he had in 2010, but on both occasions could only watch on as Uruguay’s fate was left in the hands of his countrymen.

For Ayew, unable to intervene at all in 2010, a golden opportunity to fire Ghana in the Last 16 passed him by at Al Janoub Stadium.

As had been the case with Gyan in 2010, when Ghana needed their talisman most of all, the team’s star man could only let the national side down.

In 2010, Gyan’s penalty slammed against the crossbar, here, it was Dede, buckling under the pressure after Sergio Rochet had brought down Mohammed Kudus in the box.

The keeper appeared to have come off his line when he pawed away the forward’s spotkick, but it was a feeble effort, with Ayew appearing in two minds during the run up—indecision perhaps fuelled by the delay in the penalty being award—about how exactly to execute the kick.

In the end, his shot was dismal; unconvincing, lacking conviction and at an eminently saveable height for the keeper.

Ayew converted his penalty to keep Ghana alive in the shootout against the Ivory Coast in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final, and netted the extra time winner against Tunisia in the 2012 quarter-final to send the Black Stars through. He has, in the past, demonstrated an ability to handle the pressure and come through for the national side.

But not today.

As was the case against Comoros at the Nations Cup, when Dede crumbled under pressure and was sent off, so too, he folded with the weight of a nation on his shoulders.

At 32, this is probably the veteran’s last chance to ever correct the wrongs of 2010 on the global stage, and his half-time withdrawal long with brother Jordan may represent the end of his international career.