Ghana defender Daniel Amartey admitted his team were determined that if they could not qualify for the World Cup knockout stage, they would at least prevent Uruguay from doing so.
The South American side triumphed 2-0 on Friday, but both sides were eliminated due to South Korea’s last-gasp 2-1 win over group winner Portugal.
The bad blood between Uruguay and Ghana dates back 12 years to the infamous Luis Suarez handball that denied Ghana an extra-time winner in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals.
Suarez was sent off but Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty, and Uruguay triumphed in the shoot-out.
Once South Korea scored in stoppage time in Qatar on Friday, Uruguay realised it needed another goal to reach the last 16, while Ghana needed two.
But the South Americans missed out on goals scored even though they were level on points and goal difference.
“I just told my teammates that we need a goal now, but they need a goal now, so we have to defend for ourselves so that if we can’t go, they don’t go,” Amartey said.
Asked if it was important to deny Uruguay a place in the last 16, Amartey said: “For me, yes.
“It was tough because you can see their centre back, everybody comes (forward).
“Uruguay needed one goal to go through, and you can see we defend four against five or three against two, but we managed to defend.”
Amartey denied the Ghanaians had revenge on their minds for what happened in 2010, pointing out that no one in the current squad, except captain Andre Ayew, was even at the South Africa World Cup.
And he admitted the team did have some regrets after Ayew missed a penalty minutes before Uruguay opened the scoring in the first half.
“It’s football, it happens. If we score that penalty I think we kill them but we miss the penalty, and you can see the game changed,” he said.
Ghana coach Otto Addo said his team were fighting until the bitter end.
“For us, it was about trying to score,” he said. “I know that anything can happen, and even if it’s the last minute, if you get the ball one more time you can score.”