Sorry Diego Maradona, we are going to have to steal away the phrase that has made you famous for years. The real “Hand of God” belongs to Luis Suarez of Uruguay.
In case you missed it, divine intervention reared its head onto a football field yesterday in the quarterfinals match between Uruguay and Ghana at Soccer Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Last in extra time the Black Stars had a sure fire goal from point blank range when Dominic Adiyiah headed the ball for a 2-1 lead Ghana and sure glory. Then in a desperate move to save his country Suarez flung his arms in the air to prevent the ball from going into the net and earned himself a red card. On the ensuing penalty kick Asamoah Gyan, Ghana’s leading scorer in the tournament launched the ball off of the crossbar and Uruguay was saved.
If there was any more obvious montage for ABC’s Wild World of Sports “Thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” montage we have yet to see it.
This is the type of thing that they teach you in basketball, never allow easy baskets. Send them to the line and make them earn it. Suarez made Ghana earn it, and they didn’t capitalize, somewhere Ray Allen knows how Ghana feels.
If you watch football then you understand how small a chance a goaltender has from stopping a penalty kick. It’s a huge net with a miniscule man in front protecting it. What it seemed was that Suarez was stopping the inevitable, Ghana was going to score and Africa’s dream of a World Cup champion would be alive. Then in the words of Samuel L. Jackson “God came down from heaven and stopped that M%&^#^#****** ball from going into that net.”
The frames almost seemed surreal. You see footballers always overreact to missed opportunities and chances, but this time you could actually feel the air released from the stadium. Gyan’s miss allowed extra time to turn into penalty kicks where he actually made one from the same spot, which seemed to tick him off even more that he couldn’t do it earlier. It was like watching Memphis versus Kansas a few years ago in the national title game and watching Memphis lose after it held a lead in the final minute. Why? Because Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose went 1-4 from the free throw line which allowed Kansas to have a chance. Make them earn it.
(you could also say that divine intervention played a part in that game too where God came down from heaven and prevented John Calipari from winning a title by cheating, again, but it doesn’t matter since according to the NCAA Memphis never played in that game anyway.)
When it was over Uruguay came out on top 4-2 in penalty kicks, earning them a berth in their first ever World Cup semifinal. The few Uruguay fans cheered loud as can be as the rest of the stadium filed out in shock, anger and sadness. Sure Luis Suarez will miss the next game for Uruguay, but they have a next game. What he is both heroic and villainous in the same sense. He sacrificed his own services for the team in order to fight another day and in the process robbed another country of a sure chance at playing for a title. There isn’t another athlete to compare him to it’s a first in any sport that I’ve seen. A hero and a villain all from one play. Let’s hope that he has some bodyguards following him around the next few days because he may need them in South Africa.
For Uruguay there is life, for Ghana it’s all over. For Asamoah Gyan there are some sleepless nights that lie ahead of him, for Luis Suarez he will have some too but in a more joyous sense. His hands saved Uruguay from total heartbreak and gives his nation another chance at historical glory. Don’t thank him, thank his hands.