Ghana is on the verge of taking home the prestigious CAF U-17 trophy for the first time in 12-years, as the Black Starlets have qualified for the finals of the tournament. Ghana’s U-17 national team beat Niger 6-5 on penalties to make it to the final of the ongoing Africa U-17 Cup of Nations in Port Gentil on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
Undoubtedly the star player of the team, Emmanuel Toku, saw the Starlets overcome a nervous penalty shoot-out to reach the finals.
It had been a goalless 90 minutes with both teams hustling hard to find the back of the net to no avail; leading to the shootout. Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin’s side had been wasteful throughout the game, as they missed several clear opportunities that came their way.
Ghana seemed to be at their best during the first half. Ghana in the fist half created opportunities against the difficult Nigeriens, with Eric Ayiah, Gabriel Leveh and Edmund Arko Mensah taking turns as they fought to get a chance on the pitch. For Niger, the closest the team came to scoring in the first half was presented to Yacouba Aboubacar however, he blasted the ball in the wrong direction.
In the penalty shootout, the Black Starlets scored through Bismark Terry Owusu, Gideon Acquah, Mohammed Iddriss, Faisal Osman and Emmanuel Toku. Then there was Eric Ayiah, the skipper and the marksman of the team who had his fourth kick stopped by the Nigerien goalie. Niger wasted two of their seven (7) kicks through Yacine Wa Massamba and Djibril Ibrahim Mossi.
The match was indeed a disappointment to Niger who hoped to take revenge on the Black Starlets for defeating the side during preparations for the tournament. Ghana had won both fixtures 2-0 each -against Niger, during the preparatory matches that took place in Accra last month.
The U-17 national team will now take on the winner of Mali and Guinea in the final. Ghana will win the tournament if they negotiate the finals against either Guinea or Mali.
U-17 World Cup Breakthrough
Two remarkable feats have been achieved by the country’s, U-17 national team. After easing their way into the U-17 semifinals on Wednesday, May 17, the Black Starlets automatically earned a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. The starlets slammed Gabon 5-0 in their second group game making it to the semi-finals as well as the World Cup.
A new sense of hope has engulfed the hearts of football lovers across the country, as these recent feats by the U-17 team came at a time the country wallows in a major trophy drought.