India’s maiden FIFA U-17 campaign concluded on a heartbreaking note as they were thrashed by Ghana 4-0 in their final group match of the tournament at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday. With this defeat, India have been ruled out of the tournament as well after failing to score even a single point from their three games against USA, Colombia and Ghana respectively. Indians managed to score only one goal in the tournament when Jeakson Singh netted the ball against Colombia in their second match.
Indians were formidable in the first half and did not give their counterparts many chances to score who were desperate and continuously going for long shots. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh impressed once again with his saves. However, Ghana could not be stopped for long as their captain Eric Ayiah gave his team the much-needed lead in 43rd minute just before the conclusion of first half. The second half was disastrous for India as they conceded three goals. Ayiah managed to defend the net once again in 52th minute. India’s defence was totally clumsy in last minutes of the game as they gifted two goals to Ghana’s substitutes Richard Danso and Emmanuel Toku within a span of two minutes.
After the match, Indian coach Luis Norton de Matos stressed that Indians players have made good progress, but need more exposure to improve their game further. “The boys have made progress but we need to invest in them. They need to play in the I-League. The level between India and the world is huge. Indian Super League teams go to Europe and lose 4-0 to Spanish 4th division teams; that’s the reality. These young boys need more experience,” he said.
Ghana, USA and Columbia have secured qualification for the next round with Ghana being Group A toppers followed by Colombia, who beat USA 3-1 to finish at second position. USA have to be content with the third spot.