The Black Starlets of Ghana snatched a win in their opening game against Colombia on Friday
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India got underway finally with Colombia and Ghana locking horns in the first match of the 24-team tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi. Ghana lined-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with star-man Eric Ayiah leading the line. Colombia, managed by Carlos Restrepo, meanwhile lined up with a 4-3-3 formation.
The match got off underway with the Black Starlets seizing the early initiative. Ghana quickly asserted their dominancy over the South Americans with the two wing-backs overlapping from both flanks to stretch the Colombia defence.
The first chance of the match fell to the Africans after right–winger Ibrahim Sadiq latched on to a loose ball outside the box only to send his volley over the bar. The pressure was kept up by the Ghana offensive lines in the very next minute as a three on one counter-attack developed but the Colombian right-back Andres Cifuentes did well to thwart Eric Ayiah.
The Black Starlets star-man was at it again after latching on to a lobbed through ball but he shot wide of the advancing Colombia goalkeeper Kevin Meir to keep the scoreboard unchanged.
Sadiq Ibrahim almost provided the breakthrough for Ghana after his cross from the left flank came in at an awkward angle for Meir but the custodian was alert enough to tip the cross/shot over the bar.
Colombia, on the back-foot for most of the first period, were dangerous on the break, especially with left-winger Leandro Campaz whose marauding runs down the flanks kept the Ghana defence honest.
The left-winger was put through on goal by the Colombia midfield at every opportunity possible as Ghana played a high line. Campaz almost broke the deadlock against the run of play but the winger’s shot was parried well by Ghana’s highly rated goalkeeper Ibrahim Danlad.
Sadiq Ibrahim thought he had put the Black Starlets in the lead in the 27th minute but his goal was ruled offside by the linesman. Ibrahim would not be denied in the 39th minute after tucking in a beautiful cross from the left by Ayiah.
The African led by the solitary goal at the break as their midfield and offensive lines continued to threaten the Colombian defence at every opportunity.
The South Americans attempted to take the initiative to the Africans in the second-half but the Black Starlets remained dangerous on the counter as they allowed Colombia to have the ball in non threatening areas.
It was Ghana though who had the chance to double the lead but Mohammed Idriss shot well over after being teed up beautifully by Ibrahim from the right-flank.
The Africans were content to sit back further as the second-half progressed as the attacking trio of Ibrahim, Aiyah and Aminu Mohammed were quick to launch swift forays into the heart of the Colombian defence.
Both Aiyah and Mohammed had chances to double the lead for Ghana but were denied by Mier and some sloppy finishing.
Colombia’s main threat continued to come from the left flank with Campaz being a livewire throughout but ultimately it was not enough for the South Americans as Ibrahim Sadiq’s opener proved to be the decisive goal of the encounter.
Deiber Caicedo had a guild-edged chance in the dying minutes of the second-half to put Colombia level after being sent through on goal but sent his effort just wide.
The South Americans threw the kitchen-sink at the Ghana goal in the last minutes but some excellent goalkeeping from Ibrahim Danlad denied them the equalizer.
Ghana picked up a hard fought 1-0 win over Colombia in their first match of the tournament. Sadiq Ibrahim’s first half goal ensured the Black Starlets full three points.