FIFA U17: Starlets beat host India to progress to round of 16

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  Goals from captain Eric Ayiah, Richard Danso and Emmanuel Toku were enough to hand the Black Starlets a place at the round of 16 of the FIFA U17 World Cup after beating host India 2-0 in the final group A match on Thursday.

India made the first attempt at goal in just 1 minute when Suresh Singh Wangjam teasing cross went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.  The host looked much confident as the crowd roared to push them forward.

Eric Ayiah got the ball at the back of the net in the 5th minute but will be ruled offside by the assistant referee, the decision however left the Ghana bench headed by Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin furious. The Black Starlets gradually took control of the game pushing India to their own half.

Danger man Sadiq Ibrahim was played through by Isaac Gyamfi but the former’s effort was punched away by India goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. Rashid Alhassan took a clean strike in the 22nd minute which went just over the bar. Isaac Gyamfi’s superb strike in the 27th minute from 20 yards again went just over the bar as Ghana kept creating some decent opportunities.

The Black Starlets kept creating the opportunities but for the intervention of India defender Anwar Ali who made some good clearances at the back.

Edmund Arko-Mensah nearly got Ghana’s first goal when he tried to loop the ball into the net after India goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem got off his line.

Captain Eric Ayiah finally made amends after he hopped in from a rebound in the 43rd minute to put Ghana in front. Ibrahim Sulley nearly got Ghana’s second after he pounced on a loose ball which went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem as Ghana went into the break with an advantage.

Ghana started the second half just the way the finished the first half with some sparkling display as Eric Ayiah got his second on the day with an excellent strike having received a pass from Edmund Arko-Mensah in the 51st minute.

Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin brought on Emmanuel Toku for Sadiq Ibrahim who had gone into the books of the referee. Ghana put up a much improved performance in the second half as India Coach Luís Norton de Matos struggled to find an antidote to stop the attacking prowess of the former World Champions.

Ibrahim Sulley was denied a goal having been played through by Gabriel Leveh but the New Town FC attacker’s little chip was saved by goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem who looked to be the brightest spot for the Indians. Ibrahim Sulley after countless effort of trying to catch goalkeeper   Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem off his line nearly succeeded in the 64th minute but his effort went onto the roof of the net.

Midfielder Kudus Mohammed who started Ghana’s opening two matches also came on to replace Edmund Arko-Mensah in the 75th minute.

Striker Richard Danso also came on to replace Captain Eric Ayiah who did his part by getting a brace on the day.

Lalengmawia’s effort in the 82nd minute will not trouble goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim who made a good save to deny the host from getting a consolation.

Substitute Richard Danso got on the score sheet with a cool finish in the 85th minute. Emmanuel Toku who also came on in the second half increased the tally for Ghana a minute later from scoring from a rebound.

The Black Starlets thus finished top in the group and will now face the third place team in group C, E and D in the round of 16.