Riding on substitute Ayo Akinola’s 75th minute goal, the USA downed Ghana 1-0 to record their second successive win and book their berth in the knock out round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
For Ghana, this was their first defeat in two matches, having earlier beaten Colombia 0-1 in the opener. In a 94-minute encounter, the two teams dished a hugely entertaining football with Ghanaians playing at furious pace while the Americans displayed controlled aggression. Both the teams had good chances to score but their strikes either misfired or goalkeepers Danlad Ibrahim (Ghana) and Justin Garces (USA) brought off some super saves.
The Americans had their plans. They tried to slow down the tempo of the match and then attacked. Ghana after surviving some anxious moments in the first session had a slight edge in the second but they wasted the opportunities that came their way and paid the price. If the Africans were wasteful, the Americans defended the goal well and made some incisive counter moves and that what happened in the 75th minute, against the run of play unmarked Akinola was beautifully set up after Durkin relayed the ball Goslin, who in turn sent to the winger whose shot between the legs of the onrushing defenders and the keeper found the net and that turned out to be the winner.
The Americans opened the game in style with Chris Gloster making a move from the left but his attempt was too wide of the target. The Ghanaians retaliated with striker Aminu Mohammed moving into the rival box but could not breach the defence.
A minute later mid-fielder Emmanuel Toku ran down the right flank but could not beat American defender Javlin Lindsey who cleared the ball. After that, for next 15 minutes it was the Americans who virtually laid siege around the Ghana citadel but their strikes turned out to be poor marksmen.
Mid-fielder Blaine Ferri set up a nice opening but Chris Durkin, Tim Weah and Andrew Carleton relayed the ball among themselves and finally sent it to Ferry whose left-footer posed no threat to playing at furious. Durkin in tandem with Weah then tried to attack from the centre but they found mid-fielder Issac Gyamfi difficult to beat. In fact Gyamfi was outstanding not only he fed the forwards with some superb passes he also added strength to the defence.
The Americans had a good chance to take the lead in the 16th minute when Durkin created an opening for Josh Sargent whose header was superbly cleared by goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.
Ghana survived another onslaught in the 21st minute, as the trio of Sargent, Ferri and Gloster could not capitalize on the opening they got.
The Africans then tried to unshackle themselves with counter attacks which created panic in the American defence. Substitute Ibrahim Sulley led the charge but the Americns by the time had crowded their defence so were able to foil the attacks. Three more attacks followed and in the 4oth minute the Africans had a chance to score. Striker Eric Ayiah had only goal keeper to beat but he shot straight into Justin Grace.
The last five minutes of the first session witnessed furious attacks and counter moves with Josh Sargent sending the ball over the bar and following that Ghana striker Sadiq Ibrahim squandered an easy chance. Amrican again came near scoring but Ferri fumbled near the box and shot wide.