Ghana’s Black Starlets remain committed to ending their two decades title draught and are confident Niger will not stop their forward march when the two sides clash on Wednesday in a Round of 16 clash at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Navi Mumbai.Follow @Graphicgh
It would be an all-Africa battle among familiar foes and a repeat of the semifinal clash between the two sides at the Under-17 Africa Cup in Gabon where the Ghanaians triumphed 6-5 on penalties to seal a place in the continental final.
This time, however, the Ménas look forward to a win over their nemesis after surviving from the same group that contained heavyweight as Brazil, Spain and Korea DPR and are ready to capitalised on that experience to end Ghana’s run in the competition.
Ghana coach, Samuel Paa Kwesi Fabin, told journalists at their Mumbai base that his side were determined to win their third world title after 1991 and 2005 and would not let the Nigeriens stand in their way.
“Our win against India brought back our confidence and we want to ride on into the quarter-finals. Traditionally, we are slow starters but this is the knockout stage so we are not taking chances at all,” the Ghana coach said.
Last Saturday, Niger made history by winning their first ever FIFA competition and that motivation is what could propel them as they aim to upset Ghana, who qualified as group leaders after their emphatic 4-0 victory against hosts India last Thursday.
Salim Abdourahmane, who emerged as hero on the day for Niger, is still available for Coach Tiemoko Ismaila as he plots another big victory for his side against one of the tournament’s favourites.
But Coach Fabin’s charges are gradually warming themselves into the competition after a slow start with his key players, including Skipper Eric Ayiah, are beginning to find their rhythm. Ayiah, who scored twice in Ghana’s 4-0 blowout of India, is expected to inspire his teammates to beat the Nigeriens convincingly to book a place to the quarter-finals.