India 2017: Fallouts from Black Starlets World Cup draw
The official draw for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, India 2017 came off last Friday in Mumbai. As Ghana makes a return to the competition after missing out on the last four editions, we take a closer at look the Black Starlets’ group opponents and what to expect from the tourney.
The competition will be held between 6th and 28th October 2017, across six venues in India.
The draw pitted Ghana in Group A along with the hosts India, Colombia and USA, with the hosts taking on the USA in the opening match, whilst Ghana also takes on Colombia on the same day.
India which is making its first appearance at the competition, qualified by virtue of being the host nation. Their goal is to do well as they continue their football building process.
They do not really pose any threat to the Starlets on paper, but should be taken seriously because of their home advantage and time to prepare for the competition.
The remaining teams in the group will perhaps be more threatening and pose a tougher test for the Starlets’ in their quest to dominate the competition once again.
Columbia finished 3rd in their confederation cup competition-CONMEBOL. They will be making their sixth appearance, with their best ever result at the U-17 World Cup being fourth place in 2003 and 2009.
Colombia secured their World Cup berth by virtue of their third-place finish at this year’s South American U-17 Championship. Two wins, one draw and a defeat saw them take second place in Group A behind Chile and move comfortably into the hexagonal final phase. Things were more complicated there, though, with an opening victory over Ecuador (2-1) followed by a draw with Venezuela and losses to Chile (1-0) and Brazil (3-0).
With World Cup qualification on the line, they then bounced back with a 2-1 win over Paraguay to seal their passage.
The strength of the Colombians is in their attack and this should be one of the major areas that the Ghana team should look at dealing with when the two teams come face to face on October 6th. Their forward trio of Santiago Barrero, Juan Penaloza and Jaminton Campaz scored 75 percent of their goals en route the finals
USA, who have become major rivals to Ghana at the senior level, have participated in 15 of the 16 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, having only missed out in 2013. The Stars and Stripes best showing to date has been at New Zealand 1999, where they came fourth, narrowly missing out on a spot in the final after losing to Australia on penalties in the semi-finals.
The Americans reached the quarter-finals on four other occasions, most recently at Peru in 2005. Last time out at Chile 2015, USA failed to emerge from the group stage for the first time since 2001.
They come into the competition as one of the best teams. They finished second in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship after losing to Mexico in the final on penalties. Before the final, Mexico had been on a 25-game winning streak; but the USA, who had impressed throughout the competition, winning every game to up to the final, were able to hold their opponents to a 1:1 draw before losing out on the spot kicks.
The USA team is so good that almost half of the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship’s ‘Best XI’, as voted by the Technical Study Group of the tournament, were from their team: goalkeeper Justin Garces, defenders Jaylin Lindsey and James Sands, midfielder Chris Durkin and forward Josh Sargent all made the cut.
Ghana are two-time champions, having won the competition in 1991 and 1995 and two-time runners-up in in 1993 and 1997, and are generally regarded as one of the most successful sides at the FIFA U-17 World Cup history. On paper, Ghana is supposed to be the toughest opponent in the group, however the Black Starlets have failed to qualify for the competition since 2007 where it reached the semi-finals stage before losing to Spain.
On their road to India at the CAF U-17 Championship earlier this year, after winning their first two games convincingly at the group stages, the team failed to score a single goal in open play on its way to the final; drawing their last group game, winning on penalties in the semi-finals and then losing to Mali 1:0 in the final.
Though Ghana finished second in Africa, on several occasions the team looked far from being a finished article. Any time the team met a well drilled side, it became disjointed and lacked ideas, something which is unusual with some Black Starlets teams that went on to conquer the world.
With Colombia and the USA being two of the best technically gifted sides going into World Cup, more needs to done by handlers of the national U-17 team within the next three months, in order to protect Ghana’s enviable record in the competition.