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U-20 Women's World Cup: Black Princesses lose to USA in opening clash

BY: Rosalind K. Amoh
Trinity Byars of USA and Ghana's Rebecca Atinga compete for the ball in the Group D opener
Trinity Byars of USA and Ghana's Rebecca Atinga compete for the ball in the Group D opener

Ghana made a bad start to the 2022 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup campaign after losing 0-3 to USA in their opening Group D clash on Thursday at the Stade Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

In their fourth meeting at the group stage of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, the Black Princesses again failed to get the desired results against the Americans and will need to get back to winning ways in their remaining group matches.

Apart from the heavy loss, it was also the worst possible start to their campaign as the Ghanaians were forced to play a greater part of the game with 10 players after midfielder Jacqueline Owusu was shown the red card in the 31st minute.for a dangerous tackle. That expulsion weakened the team's midfield and gave the Americans a leeway to take a 2-0 lead in the first half before scoring a third in the second half.

Coach Ben Fokuo's side went into the game already disadvantaged after their captain and star player, Evelyn Badu, was ruled out of the competition following an ankle injury 24 hours to the opening game, forcing the technical team to make a late change to his line-up.

Badu’s replacement, Afia Nyako, had just left Ghana and heading for Costa Rica when the Princesses played the opening game.

This game was always a difficult one for the Ghanaians who came up against the three-times champions missing the influential midfielder after her expulsion and therefore got them into making all sorts of mistakes imn a bid to containing the maurading Americans.

Alyssa Thompson scores

Alyssa Thompson shoots the ball past Ghana goalkeeper Grace Buoadu to score for USA

By the 11th minute, USA's leading goal scorer, Michelle Ivory Cooper, had put her side 1-0 up and any hope of the Princesses catching up was dashed when Owusu was shown the red for dangerous  tackle. Seven minutes later, Alyssa Thompson put USA into a 2-0 lead.

Any hope of recovery for Ghana was further dashed by the 38th minute as Allyson Sentnor also got her name on the scoresheet to give USA a comfortable 3-0 lead.

It would have been worse for the Princesses as Cecilia Nyama was also shown a red card for a tackle, but Australian referee Lara Lee after consulting the VAR, reversed the punishment to yellow card.

Nnonetheless, the reversal of the sending off order affected the gritty Nyama psychologically and Coach Fokuo had no other choice than take her off and bring on Louisa Aniwaa. Before then, the Ghana coach had also replaced US-based Sharon Sampson and Suzzy Dede Teye with Mukarama Abdulai and Rahama Jafaru, respectively.

However, the substitutionds did little to improve the situation for the Black Princesses as they were forced to defend their territory almost the entire second half. This also took a toll on the Ghanaians as Azumah Bugre, Susan Duah, Nyama and substitute Jafaru all got bookedfor one offence or the other.

Salamatu Abdulai versus Olivia

Salamatu Abdulai (right) of Ghana competes for the ball with Olivia Moultrie of the United States

With this result, Coach Fokuo and his Technical Advisor, Nora Hauptle will have to find an effective strategy to handle defending champions, Japan who they play next on Sunday and against the Netherlands in the final group game on August 17, if they are to stand a realistic chance of progressing in this competition .

Ghana line-up: Grace Buoadu, Anoma Opoku, Azure Bugre, Susan Duah, Rebecca Atinga, Jacqueline Owusu, Cecilia Nyama/Aniwaa, Suzzy Dede Teye/Rahama Jafaru, Doris Boaduwaa, Sharon Sampson/Mukarama Abdulai, Salamatu Abdulai