Starlets clash with USA today

•  Sadiq Ibrahim scored a goal for Ghana as they started their FIFA U-17 World Cup

• Sadiq Ibrahim scored a goal for Ghana as they started their FIFA U-17 World Cup

After coming out tops in their opening FIFA U-17 World Cup opening fixtures, the Black Starlets of Ghana and the Yanks of the United States will have a go at each other this morning for who takes charge of Group A.

Ghana defeated Colombia 1-0 last Friday while the US beat the host nation 3-0 to go top of the group on goals difference and today’s game will see qualification to the next round for the winner.

Unlike the USA team who are receiving great reviews back home following their feat against an inexperienced Indian side, the Ghanaians although won the first game have come under a lot of backlash from fans here in Ghana for the way and manner the victory came.

Prior to the tournament, the team displayed some fine and delectible football right from the African tournament in Gabon which drew some comparism to the trophy-winning sides of 1991 and 1995 – but the spectacle that unfolded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, last Friday left much to be desired for many Ghanaians who were glued to their televsion sets.

Coach Samuel Paa Kwesi Fabin himself felt the heat and right after the game he went into individual session with each of the players and later a general meeting with the players to let them know how unhappy Ghanaians are with their play even in the face of that 1-0 win.

With this feedback, Ghanaians would this morning be expecting a Black Starlets side of old and not that of the side that played on Friday as well as hoping to see disciplined and neatly dressed colts appearing in the national colours.

Having already declared his intention of going to the finals and winning the Holy Grail, Coach Fabin is expecting to deploy a strategy to brush aside the offensive and sharp looking Yanks who with the impressive offensive trio of in Josh Sargent, Ayo Akinola and son of legendary Liberian star and 1995 FIFA world footballer of the year George Oppong Weah, Tim Weah who can wreak havoc on any day if given the space.

Especially in Sargant, fresh from the FIFIA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, Coach John Hackworth has an asset that can propel him far in the tournament if given the needed attention and support from the rest of the team and that is exactly what he plans doing with the SV Werder Bremen bound starlet in today’s game.

This may likely bring problems to the Ghana backline led by Gideon Mensah and Najeeb Yakubu, whose marking at the back in the opening game was nothing to right home about as he fell victim to strong surging runs from the Colombian attacking line but poor finishing and agile goalkeeping from Danlad Ibrahim saved Ghana from going down.

Aganist the Yanks who have proved clinical at least in their opening game, the defense must be very careful not to allow for that which happened in the first game to recur, else they would get punished this time round.

The last time the two teams met was in the third place play-off in 1999 in New Zealand where the Ghanaians run away with a 2-0 win to pick bronze. The Starlets recorded the same scoreline over the Yanks when they clashed in Ecuador ’95.

With the African champions Mali losing their opening game togther with Guninea, Ghana will hope to keep an African representation in the next round when they pick all three points at stake today.

BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY

 

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