FIFA Under-2O World Cup: Black Princesses clash with USA

Ghana’s Black Princesses quest for global glory at the Women’s Under-20 level begins today when they open their tournament account against three-time champions United States of America (USA) in a Group D fixture at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela.

Kick-off is slated at 11 am.

This will be the sixth straight time the Black Princesses will be answering the roll call at the Mundial, since making their maiden appearance in 2010.

Ghana, one of the two countries flying the flag of Africa at the tournament, gained qualification to the Mundial after sealing a 5-1 aggregate win over Ethiopia at the final round of qualifiers. This was after they gained a walkover over Mauritania in the second round; beat Zambia 1-0 on aggregate before crushing Uganda 7-1 on aggregate.

Coach Ben Fokuo and her charges as well as skipper Evelyn Badu, have an audacious task of breaking an distasteful jinx of the Princesses not going past the group stages.

At their maiden appearance in Germany 2010, they placed third on the group log with four points. At the Japan 2012 edition, Ghana failed to earn a single point; 2014 in Canada, they placed third with six points but lost the qualification slot to North Korea and Canada on better goals difference, while they finished last with two points at the 2016 Papua New Guinea tournament and third with three points at the tournament held in France four years ago.

Owing to this history at the tournament, Coach Fokuo trusts his girls to pull the chestnut out of the blazing fire and qualify out of the group stages at the sixth time of asking.

And that feat will start this morning against the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Champions – USA, who have a record over the Ghanaians at the Mundial.

In three games against The Yanks, the Black Princesses have lost once (4-0 defeat in 2012) and drawn twice, 1-1 in 2010 and 2016.

On paper, the game looks a banana peel for the Princesses and being able to pluck all three points from this game, would be one hell of a daunting task coach Fokuo will be facing.

His opposite number – Coach Tracey Kevins, has labeled Ghana as a dangerous side to play and is expecting a tough challenge from the Princesses today, but the Ghanaian gaffer is having none of what he terms as gimmick.

Although his team has been a bit challenged with the weather situation in Costa Rica as it has been raining most often, Coach Fokuo has adopted ways of getting the best out of the team ahead of the group opener and believes the team is ready to battle.

“My players are responding to training since arriving in Costa Rica. It has been cloudy and rains almost every day, making it difficult for them to cope; but we are ready for the opening game and would make the best out of the opportunity.”

Skipper Badu, CAF Women Youth Player of the Year and CAF Women Interclub Player of the Year, believes they have what it takes to beat The Yanks and would stop at nothing to start the tournament on a bright note.

BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY

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