India ended their campaign in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 when they went down four nil to a superior and physical Ghana in their third Group A match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Capital on Thursday (October 12, 2017). The winners led 1-0 at the interval.
The match was a tale of two halves with India fully dominant for the first 40 minutes playing all over and overpowering the burly rivals in most of the battles. The intent was evident and Ghana, for most of the half, defended and chased.
The fortune, however, turned around a minute before the interval with Ghana, as the cliché mentions, scoring against the run of play. The goal changed the complexion of the match as in the second half Ghana took over the reins, initiating at high intensity which had the Indians guessing.
Earlier, with four changes in the starting line-up from the last match, the Indians kicked-off very aggressively. The first corner was earned within 20 seconds and a low shot which went straight to rival Goalkeeper Danald Ibrahim. That was followed by quick interchanging of passes in the midfield. The Indians were playing a high line.
The danger of being hit on the counter, however, was always there and the Indians, playing quite a high line for the first 20 minutes were almost hit in the 6th minute when Ghana, almost at Usain Bolt speed, ran past the defence to put it into the back of the net only to be ruled off-side. The crowd erupted.
The early momentum, by then, had already been seized. The Blue on the field was not willing to sit back, wait and defend. When India defended, they outnumbered their opponents and there was always the extra effort to increase numbers while attacking.
There was quick switching, always another to back the other. Most of the times, Indians were willing to take the rivals on one versus one; and succeeded. India were clearly the better side in the first 40 minutes.
But Ghana tried to claw back and succeeded in taking the lead in the 44th minute. Sadiq Ibrahim unleashed a low shot, one of those which every goalkeeper hates and though Dheeraj was quick to go down and palm it, rival Captain Eric Ayaih blasted in the rebound.
Changing over, reluctance of releasing the ball gifted Ghana their second goal. Having intercepted a one-two, Sanjeev Stalin sidestepped his marker but the rush of adrenalin did not tempted him to go solo instead of getting it to his unmarked teammates. He tried to dribble past the entire rival midfield and eventually got caught in the jungle of legs.
The counter was fast not allowing the Indian defence to recover – Aiyah this time digging his left-footer to the left of Dheeraj. It was a goal which could have been avoided, but those stay the mistakes which you learn from.
Head Coach Luis Norton de Matos made his first change in the 58th minute, Naorem being replaced by Ninthoiganba
Ghana, by then, were using the flanks to penetrate. Both the wingers were nippy and chased it faster than Boris and Sanjeev laying it for the strikers in the box. And had not Dheeraj not leapt high to intercept a lob in a one to one situation, things could have been worse.
If the first 30 minutes belonged to India, Ghana were in full flow by the 60th; and 30 minutes remained.
Matos executed his second change in the 63rd minute – this time captain Amarjit being replaced by Rahim Ali and then in the 77th minute Lalengmawia coming in for Aniket.
Realising time was running out, India went all out. In the 80st minute Rahul KP did try from a distance but it went straight to Danald, and three minutes later, even as Lalengmawia tried to beat Danald, the latter despite fumbling the first occasion, managed to hold on.
Ghana sealed the fate with two goals in two minutes in the 84th and the 85th – sloppy defending letting India down on both ocassions.
INDIA: Dheeraj Singh; Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali, Sanjeev Stalin; Rahul KP, Amarjit Singh (Captain) (Rahim Ali – 63rd), Suresh Singh, Jeakson Singh, Nongdamba Naorem (Ninthoiganba – 58th), Aniket Jadhav (Lalengmawia – 77th).