Former Ghana right-back John Paintsil believes the Black Stars would have defeated the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup semi-final—had they got there—to set up a final meeting with eventual champions Spain.Looking back over the West Africans’ campaign in South Africa a decade ago, the former Fulham man has explained why there was abundant optimism in the camp that they would have dispatched the Dutch had they advanced to the final four.
“We were looking forward to playing the Netherlands because before the tournament, we played them in Holland and we tested them,” Paintsil told Goal, referring to the Black Stars’ 4-1 friendly defeat ahead of the World Cup.
“So we knew their strengths and their weakness, and so for me, we would have gone to the final.
“We knew that we were going straight to the final, and we would have won the cup, because at that time the confidence level was very high.”
Ghana won many admirers during the 2010 tournament, eliminating the United States in extra-time in the Round of 16 to set up a quarter-final against Uruguay.
Ultimately, they were eliminated on penalties following a 1-1 draw, with Luis Suarez infamously blocking Dominic Adiyiah’s goalbound shot in extra-time before Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent spotkick.
“We saw it as though no team could beat us after we defeated the United States,” Paintsil added. “We didn’t think that any team could stand us, and we were going all out to perform against Uruguay.
“As for Holland, we knew them inside and out.”
Ultimately, the Netherlands defeated Uruguay in their semi-final to set up a final meeting with Spain, who had themselves dispatched Germany 1-0 in their Durban final-four showdown.
In the final, between two sides who had never before won the big one, Andres Iniesta stuck a 116th-minute extra-time winner to secure La Roja their first world title.
“Spain were a playing-ball team like us,” Paintsil reminisced. “They didn’t play direct balls, they didn’t make silly tackles, they were a decent side and very disciplined, we were also very disciplined.
“We also liked passing the ball around, so that final would have been beautiful.”