What had to happen has happened. Football fairytale for the hosts came to an abrupt end with Ghana skipper Eric Aiyah scoring his second goal in the 52nd minute to ensure the two-time champions' entry into the pre-quarterfinal with a 4-0 victory in a FIFA U-17 World Cup clash. The substitutes Richard Danso (86) and Emmanuel Toku (87) completed the formalities with late strikes to demolish the hosts and emerge as the group champions with the best goal difference of 4-plus.
India's Suresh Wangjam (left) vies for the ball with a Ghana player during their U-17 World Cup match in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI
Indian fans with their renewed interest in national football were hoping against hope before the match. A victory by the U-17 boys could have made them more proud. The colts did their bit, played their hearts out. Ghana dribbled effectively with good pace and accuracy. Their crosses were inviting. In the 43rd minute, one such cross from the right by Sadiq Ibrahim forced the Indian custodian Dheeraj Moirangthem to dive and clear the ball, only to find Ayiah, who accepted it gleefully to score his first goal of the tournament.
For the second goal, the cross was from Edmund Arko-Mensah. Once again there was no one marking the Ghana captain, who came to the middle of the box and netted a left footer with ease and completely surprised the opponent. Ghana coach Samuel Fabin out-thought the Portuguese coach of the Indian team Luis Norton de Matos here. India's four defenders — Boris Thangjam, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali and Sanjeev Stalin had no answer for it. Towards the end, Ghana's Danso and Toku hardly broke sweat to score the goals. Three defeats in three with nine goals conceded and a goal scored — Indian colts' inexperience and lack of exposure were evident in their maiden U-17 World Cup campaign. India's coach, whose contract is set to end, though was delighted by his team's performance.
"I want to see the senior Indian team to play this team in an official competition! We were not playing against Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan, or not against New Caledonia and Chile in this tournament. I would like to be a part of this team going into the future, but I still have a few meetings with the AIFF. It is possible," Matos said. "After two hard games, it was complicated to play a side like Ghana. African teams are very tough," Matos added.