FIFA U-17 WC: Missed chances a concern for Ghana coach

Ahead of the quarterfinal, Samuel Fabin says the team is working to improve its shooting, but he is happy to have earned a goal from substitute Danso against Niger.

Ghana players celebrate a goal in their pre-quarterfinal encounter against Niger on Wednesday.   -  PTI

Ghana captain Eric Ayah was among the group of players doing the sway and step dance in front of team fans at the DY Patil stadium. He was joined by substitutes in a movement which looked well-rehearsed and rhythmic, like one of the set pieces which give such joy when the tactic comes off right.

He attempted to sway away from a defender’s reach on the pitch, got hacked down twice in a 2-0 pre-quarterfinal win over Niger at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The captain screamed in shock the first time and fell in the box, dusted himself up when the referee pointed to the spot and converted the first-half penalty kick to put Ghana ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Read: Dominant Ghana sends Niger packing

Niger goalkeeper Khaled Lavali, unable to anticipate a carpet-drive to the right post, guessed right the second time to block Eric’s penalty kick with a dive to his left. The two-time U-17 champion side from Africa, slated to meet Mali next for a place in the semifinal, may not be in a position to dance again, going by the forwards’ performance against Niger.

Ghana had 67 per cent ball possession, forced 16 corner-kicks, attempted 23 shots from which six were blocked and missed a penalty-kick. Samuel Fabin, team coach, answering a query about low conversion rate and wasted chances, said: “Definitely, it is a concern, the erratic shooting and indecision. We are working on it, it is work in progress. We will keep correcting such mistakes till we get what we want. I am satisfied with the two goals we scored.”

Khaled emerged the lone Niger player with reflexes and anticipation to disrupt the dance by Ghanaians around the goalmouth, following searing runs down the flanks by forwards. Edmund Mensah grasped the heat in dismay after seeing the custodian deflect a snap shot from close. Najeeb Yakubu saw his floater onto the crossbar tipped over.

Emmanuel Toku swerved the ball into the post, but the goalkeeper had dived to palm away the threat for a corner. Substitute Richard Danso’s power-packed volley deflected off a leaping Khaled’s gloves, the only time in 90 minutes when the goalkeeper was beaten in open play.

Fabin felt happy with the goal from a substitute. “The depth of a team can be seen from the bench strength. When someone comes off the bench, to score like Danso did, it is a good sign for us.” African Cup champion Mali is the next opponent in the quarter-final. “I have said before, when two teams from Africa meet, it is difficult as we know each other so well.”

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