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Page last updated at 23:20 GMT, Friday, 2 July 2010 00:20 UK

World Cup 2010: Ghana boss Rajevac proud despite defeat

Milovan Rajevac
Milovan Rajevac hailed the efforts of World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana

There was pride in defeat for Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac after his side's World Cup dream was shattered by Uruguay in a penalty shoot-out.

The winning spot-kick was converted in audacious style by Uruguay's Sebastian Abreu after Diego Forlan had cancelled out Sulley Muntari's first-half opener.

"The whole of Africa supported us," said Rajevac. "We didn't deserve to lose this way.

"It's difficult, but we're proud of what we achieved".

Ghana were bearing the hopes of a continent and the weight of a history showing that no African side has ever made it beyond the last eight of the World Cup.

Yet they twice looked poised to eclipse the achievements of Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.

Ghana's first glimpse of glory, which came when Muntari fired in from 35 yards in first-half injury time, was snuffed out by Forlan's 55th-minute equaliser.

Sulley Muntari is congratulated by his Ghana team-mates

Muntari stuns Uruguay on half-time

Their second came in the dying moments of extra time, when Luis Suarez handled on the line and the referee, Olegario Benquerenca awarded Ghana a penalty.

As Africa held its collective breath, Asamoah Gyan stepped up, but could only skim the crossbar with his spot-kick.

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan

Gyan blasts penalty against bar

"I think we had more opportunities than our opponents, but that's football," added Rajevac, the wily Serbian who has sought to add European pragmatism to Ghana's natural flair.

"We really had good support and it would have been a fairytale, but I would like to congratulate Uruguay. I'm very proud."

Ghana defender John Pantsil warned Gyan not to let the spot-kick miss have a long-term affect on his future.

"We said to Asamoah that anyone can miss a penalty and it is part of football and it was the only mistake he made," said the Fulham defender.

"In fact, it was not a mistake at all. It is part of football and he kicked it from his heart and we all wanted to win the game. We have been talking to him. He is feeling bad about that. It is not easy just to forget about something like that.

"As his team-mates, we have to keep him with us and talk to him about it so he can forget about it as soon as possible.

"He is a young lad and, if he continues to think about it, it is going to affect him.

"We will make sure that he will get through this. He is a good fellow and very disciplined and always wants to win the game so we believe in him and we trust in him."

Gyan atoned for his mistake almost immediately, driving home Ghana's first penalty to make it 1-1 after Forlan had converted Uruguay's opening spot-kick.

John Mensah, the Ghana captain, subsequently missed to leave Uruguay with a 3-2 cushion, but Uruguay defender Maximiliano Pereira followed suit to raise African hopes once more.

Dominic Adiyiah's penalty was then saved by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, however, and Ghana's hopes were once again left hanging by a thread - one which was promptly severed by Abreu, triggering scenes of heartbreak.

Uruguay's Sebastian Abreu celebrates his winning penalty

Abreu penalty sends Uruguay into semis

"It has been a very difficult moment," stated Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana Football Association, in a television interview. "Our boys played very well, beautiful football.

"If it was meant for us, less than a second to go, we would have won the match. It has been a terrible moment for the entire continent, not just for our nation."



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see also
Gyan devotes Ghana win to Africa
26 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Rajevac hopes for African support
24 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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