Nothing but a victory will suffice for Ghana when they kick off the FIFA U-17 World Cup against Colombia in New Delhi on Friday.
The two-time champions have targeted a strong start against the Cofee growers as they are keen to rekindle past glories.
But this is their first appearance in a decade and they draw inspiration from their impressive performance in this year’s CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
They thumped Cameroon 4-0 before drubbing Gabon 5-0. In the semi-final of the competition, they beat Niger on penalties before losing 0-1 to Mali in the final.
“We put in a big effort to get to the U-17 World Cup again. Qualifying was very tough, but our hard work paid off and we achieved our goal.” Head coach Paa Kwesi Fabian told reporters at a pre-match conference. We are here to prove ourselves. It has been a long time getting to this stage but I believe every good thing takes time before yielding results. Now we are here and everybody will see the stuff we are made of,”
“I was in Mumbai in July for the balloting, and from there we came to New Delhi. India is a beautiful country, a very vast country with a lot of people but beautiful people as well, so I think we’re going to enjoy our stay here. We are getting used to the food and we hope to get used to it well before the end of the competition.”
The country’s under-17 teams had enjoyed its best period during the 1990s, lifting the trophy in 1991 (Italy) and 1995 (Ecuador).
And captain Eric Ayiah, who played an integral role in Gabon, finishing as top scorer, is confident of guiding Ghana to win the title again.
“We have been through a lot. We want to show the world what Ghana football is all about. We would like to win the title,” said Ayiah, who is considered among the most exciting young talent in the world.
Their opponents Colombia are among the top South American countries but they have not made it to the tournament since the 2009 edition where they finished third.
They were the first to arrive in the country and coach Orlando Restrepo exuded confidence on boys’ ability to put up a good show in the opening Group A contest.
Official Black Starlets starting line up
Danlad Ibrahim-Najeeb Yakubu, Rashid Alhassan, Gideon Mensah, Abdul Razak Yusif -Mohammed Iddris, Ibrahim Sadiq, Kudus Mohammed-Eric Ayiah, Aminu Mohammed, Emmanuel Toku
The match will start at 11:30 am local time.