After promising display in first 2 outings, India end maiden U-17 WC campaign with crushing 0-4 loss to Ghana
India go down 0-4 to Ghana in their final group match to be knocked out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup
The Indian Blue Cubs’ tactics of playing attacking football backfired against a rock-solid Ghana defence in their last Group A game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
What looked like a gritty display in the first half by the hosts ended up as a 0-4 thrashing at the hands of the Black Starlets to finish their FIFA U-17 World Cup commitments on a sombre note.
Knowing that a 2-0 win over Ghana could give them an unlikely chance to advance to the next stage after all permutations and combinations, the Indians changed the strategy and chose to attack right from the word go against the two-time FIFA U-17 champions.
Indian head coach Luis Norton de Matos started off with four different faces from the one which lost 1-2 to Colombia. Centre-back Jitendra Singh returned to the heart of the defence to partner Anwar Ali.
Star striker Aniket Jadhav was also reinstated into the starting XI in place of Rahim Ali who was brilliant in the previous game. Suresh Singh and Nongdamba Naorem also made it to the starting list.
Striker Jeakson Singh made a roaring run to the opponent flank in the very first minute to earn a corner. Ghana’s Sadiq Ibrahim responded with several run downs in the middle.
Ibrahim continued to pose threats from the right wing but Sanjeev Stalin somehow managed to keep him at bay. Ali, too, looked rock solid, just like he did against Colombia in the last game.
But just as it looked like the Indians might manage to end the first half without conceding, it was Eric Ayiah who broke their hearts with his first goal of the tournament.
Ibrahim sent in a low dangerous cross across the box after beating defender Stalin. Dheeraj managed to get his hands to it but Ayiah was there on the rebound to strike home Ghana’s opening salvo.
The second half belonged to Ghana completely as Ibrahim continued to scare India’s defence with speedy attacks and difficult tackles. In the process, he earned his second yellow card in the 49th minute when he downed Indian skipper Amarjit Singh Kiyam. This will keep Ibrahim out of Ghana’s Round of 16 next.
Ayiah scored his second goal in the 53rd minute when Arko Mensah sent in a low cross. Jitendra tried to block it but it fell back to Mensah and this time, he cut it back to Ayiah who shot a missile from the edge of the box.
It ended any hopes of India stretching their World Cup campaign.
The Indian coach made two changes in his final effort to get the team’s rhythm back. Ninthoinganba Meetei and Rahim Ali were roped in but the Indian shoulders had dropped by then. With Indians going on the offensive, it was only a matter of time before Ghana could romp more goals home.
The Black Starlets substitute Richard Danso made an immediate impact by placing the ball on the right corner bottom to make it 3-0 in the 86th minute.
And before even a minute had passed, another substitute Emmanuel Toku latched onto the rebound to send the ball into an empty goal, completely silencing the 52,000odd crowd here.
The manic two minutes robbed the Indian boys of the credit they deserved for putting some gutsy performances over the last one week.
A dejected Dheeraj Singh (1) is consoled by team-mates after India’s defeat to Ghana in their final FIFA U-17 WC game in New Delhi on Thursday
India’s Suresh Singh (6) vies for the ball with a Ghana player in New Delhi on Thursday