Ghana’s Black Princesses exhibited some determined football yesterday but was not enough to take care of the Young Nadeshiko of Japan as two spot-kicks saw the Ghanaians lose 2-0 at the Alajuela Morera Soto Stadium.
It was the Princesses second defeat in Group D – and was good to see Japan through to the quarters, whilst Ghana would bid farewell to the 2022 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup tournament in Costa Rica.
Yesterday’s performance was a marked improvement on their previous tie which saw them slump 0-3 to the United States.
The Princesses knew all-too well ahead of the game that another defeat would knock them out of contention. It is the reason they approached the evening with much seriousness and verve – and were not scared to pour forward when the occasion arises.
In the US tie, the Ghanaians looked timid and showed too much subservience to their opponents. However, that demonstration of reverence was quite absent yesterday as they defended stoutly and marched the Japanese boot-for-boot.
Thought Japan dominated possession, it was the Ghanaians who started aggressively and earned the first corner-kick in less than two minutes – but was wasted.
Ghana gave away passes too easily and allowed the Young Nadeshiko to dictate the pace, creating a decent number of opportunities.
In the 34th minute, Japan’s Manaka Matsukubo rattled the upright with a right-footed strike that left the impressive Ghana goalie – Cynthia Konlan stranded. Moments later, it was the turn of Captain Mukarama Abdulai to put her side ahead but saw her effort miss narrowly to end an exciting half.
Back from recess, the Ghanaians raised their game and played with more confidence. Desolately, just as their game was hitting a crescendo, they conceded on the half hour mark when Doris Boaduwa handled the ball in the box for a penalty which Hamano Maika perfectly put away for the opening goal.
Barely 12 minutes later, a bout of indiscipline caused the Princesses again as they conceded another penalty which Japan’s Hamano coolly slotted to make it 2-0.
Head coach Ben Fokuo introduced a couple of fresh limbs into the game in a bid to find a consolation but that hardly changed the pattern of play until the referee brought proceeding to an end. Ghana did find the net a minute from the end, but was ruled offside.
The result sees Ghana out of the campaign even ahead of their final group game against Netherlands.
BY TIMES SPORTS REPORTER