Starlets back home

The Starlets skipper, Eric Ayiah (With trophy) and other players and officials at the Airport

The Starlets skipper, Eric Ayiah (With trophy) and other players and officials at the Airport

The national U-17 football team, the Black Starlets arrived in the country yesterday from Gabon to a rapturous welcome despite failing to win the ultimate.

The team was welcomed by a large crowd including the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Pius Hadzide, Dr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, a consultant at the ministry, the Director General of the National Sports Authority, Robert Sarfo Mensah, Ghana Football Association (GFA) president, Kwesi Nyantakyi and other members of the GFA Executive Committee.

The team lost 1-0 to Mali in the final but still qualified to the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be staged in India later this year.

But the disappointment did not deter the fans who turned up in their numbers as every space at the Kotoko International Airport was filled as early as 11am with the team due to arrive about two hours later.

Security detail at the arrival hall had a tough time controlling the ecstatic fans, some of whom had huge banners of their favourite players and danced to the brass band music.

Welcoming the team, Mr Hadzide said Ghanaians are excited about their achievement despite failing to win the cup.

“You are heroes and we appreciate you all for holding high the flag of Ghana at the tournament and making it to the World Cup.”

According to him, winning silver on the continent is no mean achievement and importantly qualifying for the World Cup is a huge bonus, adding that ‘this is a sign of great things to come.’

GFA president, Mr. Nyantakyi congratulated the team for the success at the tournament and noted that the overwhelming numbers at the Airport attests to the gratitude of the Ghanaian populace.

“It is the first time in 10 years that we have played at this level and that it is a big testimony of our football development, especially youth football and for that reason we are very happy.”

The team’s leader, Mr Kweku Eyiah thanked the government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports for their guidance, support and prayers before, during and after the tournament.

Coach Samuel Paa Kwesi Fabin and his skipper Eric Ayiah thanked the government, for the support offered the team and vowed to work harder to win the ultimate at the World Cup.

By Raymond Ackumey

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