New Delhi: Two-time champions Ghana began their campaign at FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 in style by beating Colombia 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Friday. Sadiq Ibrahim was the star of the show, dominating throughout the match and netting in the 38th minute. But one has to give credit to how Colombia played as they matched Ghana toe to toe more often than not, keeping their aggressive forwards at bay.
Ghana, who finished runners-up in the African qualifying tournament, soaked the initial pressure from the Colombians and then slowly began to dictate terms on their South American opponents. They had won the tournament in 1991 and 1995. Colombia were doing most of the attacking in the first half and had more possession. They initiated their attacks mostly from the left side of the pitch. Left winger Brayan Gomez had a couple of shots at the Ghana goal but could not test goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim properly.
It was Ghana who drew the first blood in the 39th minute with Ibrahim connecting a fine cross from the left by captain Eric Ayiah. It was a defensive sloppiness on the part of the Colombians and their captain and center back Thomas Gutierrez allowed the low cross to go past him across the face of the goal for Ibrahim to fire home with a low shot.
Colombia coach Orlando Restrepo replaced an ineffective Brayan Gomez by Deiber Caicedo at the half time but his side’s fortunes did not change much. Colombia put more men upfront in search of an equaliser, but Ghana were able to stitch some dangerous moves at the counter. Ghana captain Eric himself had a fine try at the Colombia goal in the 73rd minute but goalie Kevin Mier came out of his line in the nick of time to have a last touch and negated the move. (With PTI inputs)