Ghana progressed to the quarterfinals of the FIFA U17 World Cup after posting a 2-0 win over Niger on Wednesday.
Eric Ayiah’s penalty goal and a strike from Richard Danso handed the Black Starlets a repeat over their African counterparts.
Ghana made the first attempt at goal under 2minutes when Gabriel Leveh waved through the Nigerien defense to set up Ibrahim Sulley who was denied by Niger goalkeeper Khaled Lawali.
Niger gradually grew into the game and pushed the game to the Ghanaians who looked sketchy at the back.
Niger kept threatening Ghana with some breaks on the flanks as the lateral defense of Ghana looked exposed.
Edmund Arko-Mensah could not locate his teammates after a wonderful solo run on the left hand side of attack.
Niger goalkeeper Khaled Lawali denied Edmund Arko-Mensah from getting Ghana’s first goal with a finger-tip save in the 23rd minute as the Black Starlets began to stretch the Nigerien defense.
Captain Eric Ayiah could not connect a pass from Emmanuel Toku from the right hand side of attack in the 34th minute.
Goalkeeper Khaled Lawali once again took no chances when he tipped Najeeb Yakubu’s teasing cross in the 39th as former Champions kept piling the pressure.
Eric Ayiah won a penalty for Ghana when he was fouled in the box by Niger defender Farouk Idrissa with few minutes to end the first half. The captain took the mantle on himself and made no mistake as he expertly converted to put Ghana in the lead at half time.
The Black Starlets started from where the left off in the first half by pushing forward to get a second goal as Ibrahim Sulley’s free kick went just wide in the 47th minute.
Bismarck Terry Owusu had to be forced out due to injury in the 62nd minute and was replaced by John Otu who came on to play his first game in the competition.
Ghana’s best moment in the second half came in the 65th minute when Emmanuel Toku got his way in between two Niger players and curled from 20 yards.
Gideon Mensah should have made it two for Ghana after he fluffed a chance in the 65th minute. The defender was left cursing his stars when he failed to tap in from the 6 yard box range following a strike from Edmund Arko Mensah.
Edmund Arko Mensah who had been one of the influential players in the Ghana set-up took a powerful header in the 72nd minute when went flying over the bar after a good cross from Gideon Mensah.
Ghana Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin brought on Mohammed Idriss for Isaac Gyamfi who looked exhausted in midfield. Karim Tinni also came on to replace Habibou Sofiane for Niger.
Farouk Idrissa was once again a culprit when he fouled danger man Emmanuel Toku in the box as the referee did not hesitate to reward a second penalty for Ghana in the 84th minute. Eric Ayiah failed to make use of the opportunity as his ball was saved by Khaled Lawali who had been outstanding for Niger.
Substitute Richard Danso proved to be the secrete weapon in the Ghana team when he scored a stunner with 3minutes to time when he struck from 20yards into the top corner of the post to give Ghana a two-goal lead.
Ghana will now face Mali in the quarterfinals of the competition.
By Frank Darkwah