Ghana have advanced into the quarterfinals of the U-17 World Cup after they defeated fellow Africans Niger 2-0 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
The Black Starlets claimed victory thanks to goals from captain Eric Ayiah and super-sub Richard Danso late in each half. They will now face another African side, Mali, in their last eight clash in Guwahati on Saturday.
Ghana looked the more confident and settled team in the early stages, but they had to wait until the 25th minute for their first genuine effort on goal, with Edmund Arko-Mensah seeing his shot from the edge of the box parried away by Niger goalkeeper Khaled Lawali.
The Young Menas’ gloves-man made another save 12 minutes later when he got down to smother Ibrahim Sulley’s scuffed shot, as the Black Starlets continued to boss the game.
The first half looked set to end goalless, but in injury time Niger defender Farouk Idrissa clumsily fouled Eric Ayiah to give away a penalty. The Ghana captain took on the spot kick himself and coolly converted to see his side lead 1-0 at the break.
Similar to the first stanza, Ghana waited 20 minutes until their first notable effort on goal in the second, as Emmanuel Toku’s curling strike was turned away by Lawali.
The Black Starlets should have made it 2-0 a few moments later, but defender Gideon Mensah somehow put his close-range effort over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
Ghana blew another chance to double their lead in the dying minutes when they were awarded another penalty (for another clumsy foul by Idrissa). However, this time Ayiah was denied by Lawali.
Yet the penalty miss wasn’t a costly one for the Black Starlets, who killed off Niger’s challenge when substitute Richard Danso fired home a powerful long-range drive which burst past the hands of Niger’s goalkeeper on its way into the back of the net.
Ghana (1) 2 (Ayiah 45+4’ pen, Danso 90’)
Ghana: Danlad, Arko-Mensah, Yakubu, Ayiah, Sulley, Toku (Danso 85’), Leveh, Owusu (Otu 64’), Mensah, Alhassan, Gyamfi (Iddriss 78’)
Niger: Lawali, Wa Massamba (Galissoune 90+1’), Mahaman, Idrissa, Amadou, Sofiane (Tinni 77’), K. Aboubacar, Soumana, Boubacar, Namata, Abdourahmane