India exit FIFA U-17 World Cup after going down to ruthless Ghana

India exit FIFA U-17 World Cup after going down to ruthless Ghana
Photo Credit: Indian Football Team/ Twitter

The Indian football team were beaten by a rampant Ghana side in their final match of the group stage of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup tournament. A brace from captain Eric Ayiah and further strikes from substitutes Richard Danso and Emmanuel Toku ensured the African nation’s qualification into the Round of 16.

The Indians made clear their intention from the kick-off and created the first chance within the first 40 seconds. Aniket Jadhav put in a dangerous ball from the left flank, and the slightest of touches would have given India the lead. But the host’s goal-scorer from last match, Jeakson Singh, missed by a whisker.

Ghana thought they had the lead in the fifth minute, when Black Starlets captain Eric Ayiah tapped the ball in, but he was correctly flagged for offside.

As the match progressed, the African side grew into the game and started to create openings for themselves in a fast-paced and end-to-end encounter. Dheeraj Singh was called into action more often than not, but the ‘keeper went about his business without any hiccups, thwarting his opponents with some fine saves.

But Ghana kept on pushing and finally India’s resilience came to an end two minutes before half time. Sadiq Ibrahim burst in from the right flank and drilled in a cross, which was palmed away by a diving Dheeraj. However, the ball fell kindly into the path of Ayiah who smashed home from close-range.

With the deadlock finally broken, Ghana tried to add more to their tally before the half ended and surged forward. However, the Indian defence hung on and they went into the tunnel at the half trailing by the lone goal.

Ghana started the second half as they had ended the first. While they attacked with gusto, they also made sure that the Indians were choked for space in the middle of the park. They doubled their lead seven minutes after the restart, once more courtesy of their captain, as wing-play proved to be the host’s undoing yet again. Gideon Mensah pulled back the ball after a pacey run on the left flank, and Ayiah was at hand to drive in a low shot into the bottom-left corner of Dheeraj’s goal.

Ghana did not lower their intensity in the slightest even after doubling their advantage. They launched wave after wave of dangerous attacks, but the Anwar Ali-led Indian defenders stood up to the task, making crucial interceptions and clearances at the right junctures.

However, the hosts were completely undone in a span of two minutes where they leaked two goals. First, a loss of possession in the midfield put Danso through in the 86th minute, and he slotted calmly past an on-rushing Dheeraj. A minute later, Toku tucked the ball into the net after it had rebounded to his path from a shot off the post.

The goals completed India’s misery as their debut FIFA World Cup tournament ended on a sour note with the 4-0 loss.

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