JOHANNESBURG - Ghana's dreams of becoming the first African side to reach a World Cup semi-final will depend on their ability to keep at bay the formidable attacking duo which has propelled Uruguay into the quarters.
The Ghanaians carry the hopes of a continent hosting its first World Cup, but any burden of expectation is far out weighed by the need to keep a close check on the ability of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez when they meet in their quarter-final tie at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Friday.
The pair have scored five goals between them as Uruguay have enjoyed their most successful World Cup campaign in 40 years, topping their group and then beating South Korea in the second round.
Combined with a resolute defence that has conceded a solitary goal in four matches at the finals, Uruguay present a formidable challenge to hopes Ghana will rescue a disastrous tournament for African teams.
As the only one of six representatives from the continent to progress past the first phase, Ghana have become the team on which the host nation, and wider continent, are pinning their hopes on to recreate the hype and excitement that preceded the start of the tournament.
"It was very important for us to win because we know that Africans are proud of us and we are playing on African soil," said captain John Mensah, acknowledging the expectation in the build-up to the quarter-final.
But coach Milovan Rajevac, perhaps fearful his players will be affected by the pressure, has sought at the same time to temper talk of carrying Africa's ambitions.
He deflected questions on the issue during the week, saying tersely: "The players concentrate on what happens on the pitch. There are no other pressures."
Rajevac will make two changes with Dede Ayew and Jonathan Mensah suspended.
Isacc Vorsah makes a timely return from injury to centre back in place of Mensah, and will be key to Ghana's plans to stifle the double threat posed by Forlan and Suarez.
Ayew's place is likely to be taken by Sulley Muntari, only used as a substitute so far but still with the potential to prove a decisive influence for Ghana.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez named his team on Wednesday, with Mauricio Victorino in for the injured Diego Godin in defence and Alvaro Fernandez chosen ahead of Alvaro Pereira in midfield.comments