Maidens, Uruguay in tricky opener

BY: Maurice Quansah
Mukarama Abdulai — Black Maidens’ leading striker
Mukarama Abdulai — Black Maidens’ leading striker

Ghana Black Maidens begin their FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup campaign when they take on hosts Uruguay in a tricky tournament opener at the Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo this evening.

Kick-off is at 22:00 Uruguay time or 01:00 GMT (Wednesday).Playing against a host team is often a difficult affair and the Maidens should expect no favours in today’s game, with a fanatical home crowd expected to cheer La Celeste’s to get their campaign off to a flying start.

It is only Uruguay’s second appearance at the world stage as they come face to face with Ghana, one of the competition’s most regular and formidable teams who are making their sixth consecutive appearance.

At the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, the Black Maidens hammered a hapless Uruguay side 5-0 in a group fixture in Baku en route to winning the bronze medal. Six years later, the two sides meet again, with the Ghanaians hoping to ride on their psychological advantage and rich experience to upstage their opponents.

In Evans Adotey, the Maidens have an experienced tactician who is familiar with the terrain having led the team to the past three World Cup tournaments. Similarly, his 17-year-old midfielder, Fuseina Mumumi, will be making her third consecutive appearance in the competition after first featuring in the 2014 tournament in Costa Rica as a talented 12-year-old.

Four years on, Fuseina is one of the mainstays of the Ghana team, which is led by precocious striker Mukarama Abdulai, whose goals powered the team to qualify from the African zone.

When in her groove, the Ghana captain who scored 12 goals in the qualifying competition could be a nightmare for the Uruguay defenders. The Northern Ladies FC forward is surely one player Adotey will be counting on for inspiration on the field.

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"The coach has spent a long time preparing us for this first match and for the atmosphere we can expect there," Mukarama told fifa.com.

"We have to be totally focused so that we don’t get knocked off our stride by the home fans cheering for their team."

The Maidens wrapped up their pre-tournament preparation in Brazil where they defeated a local side America FC 4-0 but lost 1-2 to Cameroun in their second friendly in Sao Paulo.
Despite qualifying automatically as hosts, Uruguay prepared for the competition by participating in the South American championships where they finished in third place.