FIFA U-17 World Cup: Ghana thrash India 4-0, end their journey
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 told the media.
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 the offside flag. Ghana did not lose focus and within the next ten 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 in the game to hand the hosts their biggest loss of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The World Cup journey is over for the Indian players and there is no certainty when the team will get to take part in a FIFA tournament again. However, this loss will not take away from the improvement the hosts showed in the previous two games.
Matos said the youngsters will take a lot of positives from the tournament. “I am very proud of how the players performed in the tournament and they have learnt a lot from the three matches. This generation is a fantastic one and if they are nurtured well, they can be the future of Indian football.”
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