Two goals in each half eased the Black Starlets to a comfortable win.
India bowed out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup after a disappointing 0-4 loss to African heavyweights Ghana at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi in their final match of Group A.
The odds were against the young Colts in this intimidating encounter against Ghana, who were themselves looking to bounce back after suffering a defeat to the USA in their last game. India made three changes as Jitendra Singh and Suresh Singh Wangjam returned to the team, while Nongdamba Naorem got a start in-place of Ninthoinganba Meetei. India were raring to go and started the game with amazing momentum, receiving a corner within 30 seconds. They almost got off to a dream start after Naorem put in an inviting ball which needed a touch to go into the back of the net, but nobody could capitalize on it.
The Blue Tigers were playing more of a free-flowing, attacking football in this game but were almost made to pay in the 3rd minute when Ghana launched an attack of their own, but Dheeraj Moirangthem averted any disaster. Ghana were settling into the game as the minutes past and their midfielder Ibrahim Sulley raced past India’s defence before passing to Eric Ayiah, whose goal was ruled out due to him being offside.
Watch Ghana 4-0 India Highlights
Naorem was looking threatening on the ball and Suresh’s introduction in midfield helped to stabilize things in the middle of the park for India. Ghana continued to threaten through the right side as Sadiq Ibrahim beat Sanjeev Stalin in the 19th minute and hit a shot from a wide angle, but it was parried over easily by Dheeraj. The Indian fans almost received a shock two minutes later when Rashid Al Hassan’s darting shot whiskered just over the post, much to Dheeraj’s relief.
Ghana were testing out India with long range shots and Isaac Gyamfi hit a thunderous attempt from 35 yards away in the 27th minute which again sailed just over the post. Dheeraj picked up a knock towards the 40th minute, but was fit enough to play through the game. The goalkeeper made a rare error when he failed to clear through a ball which fell to the feet of Edmund Arko-Mensah, but thankfully his shot hit the side-netting. But the Colts wouldn’t be so lucky in the 43rd minute when Sadiq went past Stalin in the right wing and put in a darting ball, which was initially saved by Dheeraj but the rebound fell to Ayiah who put it in an open net to give Ghana the lead.
Ghana looked really dangerous towards the end of the first half and almost scored another when Sulley luckily found the ball inside the box, only to see his shot saved well by Dheeraj. India’s pace had seemingly been lost towards the end of the half and needed some reassessment going into the break as the Black Starlets led 1-0.
The visitors began the second half looking more threatening and were helped by some silly mistakes from the young Colts as well. They kept on mounting attack after attack and finally broke the Indian defenses’ resolve when Eric Ayiah was found by Arko-Mensah free inside the box and hit a swerving left-footed shot to get his brace and double the lead for the Black Stars. Ghana had the lion’s share of the possession in the second half and Sulley found himself through on goal in the 60th minute, but his chipped shot was saved well by Dheeraj. India’s goalkeeper made another save a minute later when he made another diving save of a long shot.
Dheeraj had a heart-in his mouth moment in the 65th minute when Sulley hit a shot from the half-line, which landed on top of the net as the young keeper was furious at his midfield for not pressing the Black Stars down. India were getting no chances whatsoever at attacking and the Black Stars broke through the right-wing yet again in the 73rd minute but were denied through a last-ditch challenge by India’s defense.
India displayed some positive energy in the 80th minute when Boris showed determination to win the ball and passed it to Raul Kannoly, who hit a powerful shot which was saved well by Danlad Ibrahim. The hosts gave all they had in the last ten minutes as they launched an impressive counter-attack three minutes later and substitute Lalengmawia struck a great shot which Ibrahim had to scamper to collect well. While the Colts did gain some possession, they gave it away in midfield again in the 86th minute and the ball found its way to Richard Dansood who calmly finished to score with his first touch of the match ever since coming on as a substitute.
The Black Stars were not letting up and wanted to score as many as possible to improve their goal difference and pounced on and Ibrahim Sulley pounced on an error a minute later and hit a vicious shot which struck the post and rebounded to substitute Emmanuel Toku who blasted the ball into the back of the net to gain an unassailable lead for the visitors. Ghana kept the ball till the final whistle and confirmed their spot in the Round of 16, while India bowed out of the tournament.
Watch Mali 3-1 New Zealand Highlights
In the other match of Group A, Colombia shocked the USA with a 3-1 win. Juan Penaloza, Juan Vidal and Deibar Caicedo scored for the Colombians, while George Acosta scored one for the USA. These results completely changed up the look of Group A, with Ghana finishing as winners of the group and Colombia finishing runners-up thanks to their victory against the USA. But the USA should qualify for the Round of 16 thanks to having 6 points and should be a 3rd-placed team to get a spot in the knockout phase.