Ghana sends two home before match
BRASILIA, Brazil – Ghana threw Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng out of its World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons on Thursday, plunging the team into further chaos just hours before it was eliminated from the tournament in a 2-1 loss to Portugal.
Just a day after resolving a possible player mutiny over World Cup bonus payments, the Ghana Football Association released two separate statements saying two of the country’s stars had been “suspended … indefinitely from the Black Stars with immediate effect.”
Muntari was suspended “in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr. Moses Armah” on Tuesday, one statement read.
The other statement said Boateng was dropped from the squad because of “vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah” during a training session this week.
“Boateng has since showed no remorse for his actions which has resulted in the decision,” the statement added.
Messi upstages Ronaldo
Coming off his most successful season at club level, this was supposed to be the World Cup where Cristiano Ronaldo underlined his new-found superiority over great rival Lionel Messi and his status as the game’s best player.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Hindered not just by a left leg injury but also the poor quality of the Portugal teammates alongside him, Ronaldo exits the World Cup with one goal and some below-par performances – by his standards – from three group matches.
His lone goal was the winner in a 2-1 victory over Ghana on Thursday that couldn’t prevent Portugal slipping out of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Messi has led Argentina into the last 16 with four goals, the joint-highest in Brazil.
Asian teams eliminated
With South Korea’s 1-0 loss to Belgium, the last Asian team in contention has bowed out of the World Cup – leaving the continent without a single second-round representative.
Thursday’s result caps a dismal campaign for the Asia qualifiers. South Korea joins Japan, Australia and Iran in being eliminated in the group stage. The result marks the first time since 1998 that none of those teams have reached the knockout stage.
South Korea has been to more World Cups than any other Asian team, but has regressed considerably since reaching the semifinals when it co-hosted the tournament in 2002.