An intriguing battle is in the offing as two–time champion Ghana takes on the USA in their second match of group A with the winner sealing a knock-out berth of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Delhi on Monday.
In their openers USA had recorded easy 3-0 win over hosts India while Ghana were lucky to claim full points against error prone Colombia as they beat the South American side 1-0.
Though Ghana has a better head to head record against the Americans having beaten them by identical 2-0 in 1995 (Quito) and 1999 (Auckland) but on Sunday is a new day and new match.
Though the Africans were able to survive Colombian onslaught by maintaining tremendous pace but the Americans look more organized and physically fit. However Ghana, winner of the trophy in 1991 and 1995, are eager to regain the World Cup which have eluded them for 22-years.
Ghana coach Paa Kwesi Fabin said that his team will play attacking football against USA to seal early qualification to the knockout round.
“We want to qualify with the second game, so we are going to go all out in the second game to get another three points to guarantee a place in the next stage,” he added.
A draw will put both of them in a strong position to be in the knock-out stage as two top teams from each group and the four next best-placed teams overall will make it to the next round.
Ghana, two-time champions at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1991 and 1995, are looking to end their 22-year trophy drought in a tricky group.
Sadiq Ibrahim who netted the winner and goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim hogged spotlight against Colombia while the Ghanaian defence was also solid in that game. However Ghana defence will be tested by the USA as their strikers look very incisive Josh Sargent, who is set to join Bundesliga side Werder Bremen next year, Chris Durkin and Andre Carleton are their spearheads.
American coach John Hackworth played down his team’s record against Ghana in the U-17 World cup saying those results have no meaning.
“Those matches were played two decades back. This is a new team brimming with confidence. We don’t under estimate our rivals but will play according to plan and strength” he said adding that the boys are well aware of the importance of the match. The win will propel them into round of 16 with a match to go,” he said.