FIFA U17 WC: Ghana will look to reassert its supremacy

The Colombia vs Ghana encounter, which will pit South American flair with the brutal, fast-paced African style of play, will mark the start of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the city.

Ghana, which lost the CAF Africa U-17 Cup of Nations final to Mali in 2017, will expect to make it past the group stage, which also has host India and the USA.

Two-time FIFA Under-17 World Cup winner, Ghana, making a return to the event after a long gap of 10 years, will look to reassert its supremacy on the world stage. “We are still the leaders and we are here to prove that to ourselves and also to everyone else. It took us some time to come here, but now we are ready to give our best," Ghana coach, Samuel Kwesi Fabin said ahead of its Group A encounter with Colombia.

The team, which lost the CAF Africa U-17 Cup of Nations final to Mali in 2017, will expect to make it past the group stage, which also has host India and the USA. “Ghana has a lot of sunshine and it’s the same here. It feels like we are at home,” Kwesi Fabin said. “Facilities have been fantastic and we are getting used to the conditions.”

His Colombian counterpart, Orlando Restrepo, 60, stressed on the unity of his team perhaps trying to cast aside the notorious notion of divided Colombian national sides. “We move as a team, a body connected together. We have plans and we are focused on our opponents.  Every team has their style, but we will play our own game.”

The encounter, which will pit South American flair with the brutal, fast-paced African style of play, will mark the start of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the city. The Latin American nation will look to its playmaker Yadir Meneses for inspiration. Menses, a fan of the 2014 senior World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, joined the team after the South American Championship, where Colombia finished fourth. The team won two of its five matches and was guilty of wasting chances, scoring only four times in its games. But, with Menses in its rank, the team found its scoring boots in the four-nation event in Mexico, accounting for 10 goals in its three games, including three against World Cup host India.

“All three opponents in our team have different style of play and it will be a challenge,” Restrepo said.

Ghana, too, played free-flowing football in the African Championship, scoring nine goals in its five games. The Black Starlets, however, failed to get into the score-sheets in the knockout games, reaching the final after a penalty shootout win over Niger.

The two teams are expected to step up with an attacking line-up with Colombia looking to dominate possession and keep Ghana’s marauding wingbacks at bay. Skipper Eric Aiyah will be leading the line for the African nation and the crowd might be treated with a goal fest.