A semi-final berth has been sealed and a World Championship ticket secured, yet Ghana’s Black Starlets insist their mission in Gabon at the Africa Under-17 Championship is not entirely complete.
They will thus not take their foot off the pedal until the mission is accomplished.
Last Wednesday, the Starlets became the first side to qualify for the semi-finals of the eight-nation African U-17 Championship in Gabon, after beating the hosts 5-0 to record nine goals in two games.
Now, they can afford to relax as they play Guinea in their final Group A game tomorrow. However, Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin insists slowing down is not part of their game plan as they intend to finish top from their group.
With the first mission accomplished, the Starlets can still finish as Group A winners even if they draw against Guinea, as they will have seven points with the Guineans likely to finish second with five points, having been held to a 1-1 draw by Cameroun last Wednesday.
At this point, Coach Fabin can afford to rest his key players and give the substitutes a chance to have a feel of the action, ahead of the crucial semi-final game.
However, he may not take the risk given that Guinea will come out to fight for a win and possibly overtake Ghana at the top.
While he will not indicate whether some key players will be rested, Coach Fabin says they know exactly what they want and what they will do in the final game.
“We won’t hide the fact that we are hungry for success and keen on returning home with the trophy.
“The players are fit and ready for action to accomplish the mission so against Guinea, we will stick to our mission and game plan and hopefully, our dream of being group winners will be made real,” Coach Fabin said in an interview.
The starting line-up have shown what they are capable of achieving and the game against Guinea will be the good time for the technical team to test their options.
While Coach Fabin agrees that it will be good to give the players yet to kick a ball the chance, winning teams are not easily changed, especially, when the intention is to make it three out of three wins from the group stages.
So far, the Starlets’ deficiency is yet to be exposed if there is any as they have played convincing from start to finish in the two games played so far, the results are indicative of the hunger to succeed in them.
The defence has remained resolute and the few times they have been put under pressure, all of them, Bismark Terry Owusu, Osman Faisal, Abdul Razak Yusif, Najeeb Yakubu and Edmund Arko Mensah, have kept cool heads while the midfield, built around Emmanuel Toku, Gabriel Leveh and Ibrahim Sulley, have been unrelenting, driving the team on either wings and from the middle when need be, to enable captain Eric Ayiah exert his influence as clinical finisher, leading the goalking chart with five goals from the two games.
Hopefully, in the final game, no matter who starts or sits on the bench, the Starlets will provide the same scintillating performance they have served so far at this competition to serve a stern warning to their opponents in the semi-final game.
The other Group A game will have no bearing on the final standings as Cameroun can not overtake Guinea even if they win while Gabon, already out, will only play for pride.
In the final Group B games, defending champions, Mali will play Angola, while Tanzania also play Niger.
So far, no side from this group have qualified and there will be all to play for in this final matches.