West African team tops group A af­ter leav­ing hosts dazed with speed and power

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - News - Sayan Ghosh n

I am very proud of how the play­ers per­formed in the tour­na­ment and they have learnt a lot from the three matches. L.N. DE MATOS, In­dia coach

The at­mos­phere at the Jawa­har­lal Nehru Sta­dium on Thurs­day was no less vi­brant than the last two In­dia matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The 52,000-strong crowd was be­hind the hosts for the en­tire game and ev­ery move was met with thun­der­ous cheers.

How­ever, the only thing miss­ing was the fight­ing spirit that had be­come the trade­mark of the In­dian foot­ball team in the FIFA U-17 World Cup as the hosts were brushed aside 4-0 by Group A top­pers Ghana.

Amar­jit Singh and Co had no an­swer to Ghana’s pacy at­tacks and the big de­feat meant the hosts’ run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup ended with a whim­per.

Be­fore their last Group A game, the In­dian play­ers im­pressed ev­ery­one with their de­ter­mi­na­tion on the pitch and the crowd had the same ex­pec­ta­tions. But twice win­ners Ghana were far too su­pe­rior, and sadly for the New Delhi crowd, there was no mir­a­cle at the end of 90 min­utes as In­dia’s jour­ney in their first FIFA World Cup of any kind ended.

“Ghana were the strong­est team in our group and to­day, their full-backs and wingers were bril­liant. The dif­fer­ence between the two teams was too big. Although we were able to pro­vide some fight­back, we were out­played in the sec­ond half,” In­dia coach Luis Nor­ton de Matos said.

The hosts were out­played from the first minute. The two Ghana­ian wingers -- Sadiq Ibrahim and Ed­mund Arko Men­sah -- drib­bled past the In­dian full-backs with ease and although Eric Ayiah did not look in good touch, the gap in qual­ity between the teams was ap­par­ent. The In­dian de­fence was breached in the sixth minute when Ayiah found the net with a tap-in but the hosts were saved by off­side flag. Ghana did not lose fo­cus and within the next 10 min­utes, Ibrahim Sul­ley and Is­sac Gyamfi came close to scor­ing.

The dead­lock was fi­nally bro­ken in the 43rd minute when Eric Ayiah found the net. The Ghana skip­per cap­i­talised on a lucky re­bound and his close range ef­fort gave no chance to the keeper Dheeraj. Ghana led only 1-0 at the in­ter­val, but their dom­i­nance was clear from the fact that they had four shots on tar­get while In­dia strug­gled to even reach the op­po­si­tion’s fi­nal third.

The sec­ond half was no dif­fer­ent as the hosts looked clue­less against the pace of Ghana and the Africans did not take much time to find their sec­ond goal. It was striker Eric Ayiah who re­ceived a mea­sured pass from Ed­mund Arko-Men­sah and a con­trolled left-footed fin­ish dou­bled his tally. The mis­ery did not stop there as In­dia strug­gled to re­tain pos­ses­sion beyond 3-4 passes and Ghana sub­sti­tutes — Richard Danso and Em­manuel Toku scored late to hand the hosts their big­gest loss of the tour­na­ment.


Ghana play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter scor­ing the sec­ond goal.

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