Af­ter promis­ing dis­play in first 2 out­ings, In­dia end maiden U-17 WC cam­paign with crush­ing 0-4 loss to Ghana

DNA (Delhi) - - NEWS - Chan­der Shekhar Luthra shekhar.luthra@dnain­

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

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