New Delhi: India ended their campaign on a poor note, suffering a heavy 0-4 defeat to Ghana in their last Group A match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Thursday. Ghana skipper Eric Ayiah (43rd, 52nd minutes) struck a brace, bulging the net on either side of the break before Richard Danso (86th) and Emmanuel Toku (87th) scored in quick succession towards the end.
Ghana finished the group stage with six points from three matches. They took the top spot in the group due to a superior goal difference ahead of the US and Colombia who also finished with six points each. India ended their maiden appearance at a football World Cup in any age group without opening their account and only one goal to show for their efforts.
Ghana dominated right from the start but were held at bay by some tough, stubborn defending by the Indians. The home team however, ran out of ideas in the final third, showing a distinct lack of composure when in possession and committed a lot of missed passes and errors as a result, losing the ball easily.
Lack of combination and poor awareness upfront repeatedly saw Indian players in possession but with no team mates in good positions to pass to. Their job was made even tougher by a well-organised Ghana defence which allowed them very little time and space, while showcasing excellent skills, tactical awareness and athletic ability.
Ghana right winger Sadiq Ibrahim was a constant threat down the flanks with his speed and accurate balls into the Indian penalty box. Rashid Alhassan was also excellent on the left wing and Ayiah in the centre had a constant stream of excellent passes and crosses as he used his superb technique and dribbling skills to trouble the Indian defence.
Only some desperate defending by the hosts prevented them from conceding more goals. Central defenders Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh put in a tireless performance for India. To their credit, the Indians tried really hard to impose a threat on the rival citadel despite the clear difference in class and quality.
They repeatedly tried to attack down the flanks in their effort to push back the Ghana defence. Ayiah found the net for Ghana in the sixth minute but his effort was ruled offside. Indian defender Boris Thangjam was brought down early in the 14th minute, to allow Sanjeev Stallin take a hit on the goal through free-kick. But Stallin failed to make the most of the early opportunity.
Ghana wingers Ibrahim and Alhassan created good chances from their long-range effort but India goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem stood tall to keep the ball away on every occasion. Unable to penetrate through the Indian defence, Issac Gyamfi took a long-range effort in the 28th minute only to see the ball sail over the cross-bar. Ghana looked to play more through their flanks, but the Indian goalkeeper stood firm in between disallowing the opponents any opportunity.
The constant pressure by Ghana finally took its toll towards the end of the first half as Ayiah broke the deadlock, making a superb run from his own half before scoring off the rebound when Indian goalkeeper blocked a pass from Ibrahim. The second-half started with India defending deep with no one in attack. Their lone striker Aniket Jadhav was left with no support upfront.
Ghana scored their second goal after a sublime move. An excellent run saw Ayiah in acres of time and space at the edge of the hosts’ penalty box as he met a pinpoint pass from Edmund Arko-Mensah with a superb finish. Ghana looked to add on their lead trying to hit shots from long range and constantly getting past through the Indian defence which failed to look up to the mark.
Substitute Rahim Ali tried to use the ball on the flanks positively to impose threat on the opposition. He even succeeded up to an extent to pass the ball to Jadhav but the lone striker failed to do the most of it. Rahul Kannoly displayed his skills in the 81st minute to create space for himself but his long-range effort ended up in the safe arms of Ghana goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.
The hosts virtually gifted away the third goal when Anwar easily lost the ball to Danso who made a speedy run before finishing past Moirangthem. Toku scored another soft goal a minute later as the Indians had a disappointing end to their World Cup campaign.