Starlets crush India … To finish top of group

CaptainAyiah	(centre)	joined	by	team-mates	to celebrate his second goal of the game

Captain Ayiah (centre) joined by team-mates to celebrate his second goal of the game

GHANA’S Black Starlets taught India a footballing lesson at the Jawahara Lal Nehru Stadium on Thursday, as they outplayed the hosts to seal an impressive 4-0 victory, and also sealed a spot in the round-of-16.
Ghana, two-time World Champions were expected to provide the stiffest challenge to India and it proved to be just that, as Ghana’s pacy attackers ensured that Indian defence had to sweat it out all throughout the game.
The hosts started on the front foot, rather surprisingly, winning the corner as early as the second minute of the game. But once Ghana found their rhythm, they were certainly the dominant side.
Coach Samuel Fabin had warned his players to pull up their socks, especially in the finishing department as the team had struggled to find the back of the net in the first two games despite dominating.
The front three of captain Eric Ayiah, Sadiq Ibrahim and Arko-Menshah were menacing with their pace, and had the ball in the back of the net when Ayiah struck in the fourth minute, only for the linesman to rule it offside, much to the delight of the crowd at the JLN stadium.
It seemed as if it would be a case of déjà-vu for the Ghanians, as they kept on attacking but did not manage to trouble Indian custodian Dheeraj as much as they would have liked.
Long ball was the only option left for the Indians and striker Aniket Jadhav tried to do as much as he could with rather limited service.
Coach de Matos did not waste any opportunity to pass on instructions to his players and just when it seemed we would have a goalless half, Ghana struck to silence the loud crowd.
Sadiq Ibrahim had Sanjeev Stalin chasing shadows all night, and he would again leave the right-back for dead, before putting the ball in the danger area. Dheeraj, who had just recovered from an injury, did manage to palm it away, but it fell to Ayiah, who buried the ball in the roof of the net to give the Ghanians the lead going into the break.
Second-half started much like the first ended, with Ghana looking to kill the game with another goal, and it was captain Ayiah who struck again in the 52nd minute to seal the round-of-16 spot for his team.
If it was Ibrahim for the first goal, then it was Arko-Mensah for the second, who managed to beat the Indian defence with his pace, before his pass rebounded off Jitendra to find Ayiah in the box with acres of space.
The captain did not make any mistake as he found the back of the net with a clean low finish.
Coach de Matos decided to bring off captain Amarjit, who had a rather disappointing night, and replaced him with Rahim Ali, to give Aniket more support in front.
Ghana then almost toyed with the Indian players, with Ibrahim almost embarrassing keeper Dheeraj with an outrageous chip.
To compound de Matos misery, Naorem had to be brought off due to an injury. The coach cut a frustrated figure at the touchline as nothing seemed to be going according plan for the Blue Colts.
Ghana then almost started toying with the Indian players, playing with absolute freedom.
Richard Danso, who had come off the bench to replace captain Ayiah added the third goal, after Jeakson was robbed off the ball in the midfield by Gabriel Leveh.
By the time, Emmanuel Toku scored the fourth, a dispirited India had already given up any hopes and was playing for the final whistle.
The defence was caught napping as Ibrahim Sulley’s low shot rebounded off the post, before Toku latched onto it to put the icing on the cake for the Starlets.
India never really threatened the Ghana goal, and the referee put the hosts out of their misery with the final whistle. –

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