It is all but pride to be played for as the Ghana’s Black Princesses head into their final Group D game at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup against the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Coach Ben Fokuo’s side crashed out of the tournament after losing 0-2 to the defending champions, Japan, through two goals via spot kicks.
After losing 0-3 to former champions, USA, last Thursday, the Princesses lost yesterday to Japan in their second successive game, and therefore technically are out of the competition as they cannot qualify to the next stage.
Yesterday, with Coach Fokuo making three changes to the starting XI, starting goalkeeper Cynthia Fiindib Konlan ahead of Grace Banwaa Buoadu, Mukarama Abdulai ahead of Sharon Sampson and also starting Louisa Aniwaa for the red-carded Owusu.
That helped the team a bit as they survived the pressure from the Japanese and managed to hold them to a goalless draw in the first half.
However, they could not go the full haul as in the last 20 minutes, the Princesses’ defence caved in, conceding two penalties within a spate of 10 minutes – in the 62nd and 72nd minutes for infringements in the penalty box and the resultant kicks expertly converted by Maika Hamano.
Worse, it seems the goalscoring skills have also abandoned the Princesses as they are yet to get a goal in this campaign – a sharp contrast to the 13 goals and two conceded in three rounds of the qualifying campaign
If they do not score against the Netherlands, it will be a repetition of their 2012 campaign in Japan where they ended the group campaign without scoring.
Indeed, yesterday, Salamatu Abdulai scored but that did not count as it was from an offside position and the competition did not feel the impact of general captain, Mukarama Abdulai, who in 2018 at the Under-17 WWC, dazzled the world with her goals and performance which saw her finish that campaign as the top scorer and bronze medalist of the Adidas boots.
With all but pride that left of the campaign, Coach Fokuo will have to come up with a master plan to ensure that the ladies bow out with at least a consolation goal, knowing that it was never an easy campaign given the group they were drawn in but at least, they did not go down without a fight.