Ghana’s Black Starlets moved a step closer to qualifying for the Rwanda 2011 African U-17 Championship when they beat the teranga Cubs of Senegal 2-0 on Saturday at the El-Wak Stadium, Accra.
Two late goals from Hamza Zakari and substitute Joseph Gordon gave the Starlets the advantage in the final round first leg ahead of the return encounter billed for Dakar in a fortnight.
The twinkle twinkle ‘Stars’ yet again failed to sparkle on the big stage as the Teranga Cubs defended gallantly and thwarted most of their efforts.
The Starlets resumed on a promising note giving a strong indication of their readiness to carry the day by a convincing result but it turned the opposite.
The absence of captain Nasiru Mohammed – the team’s goal merchant, due to injury was telling in their play, as the attackers failed to make the most of the chances that came their way.
After a barren first half, Starlets coach Frimpong Manso reshuffled his cards in his quest to break the iron clad defense of the Senegalese made up of Papa Faye, Ibrahim Diedhou, Hewe Diedhou and Zain Nassadan for the opener.
The Starlets were still in charge of the game and the introduction of Gordon and Jacob Asiedu brought on more pressure to the visitors but the finishing was ordinary.
Luck, however, smiled at the hosts six minutes from time when Zakari broke the deadlock after Asiedu had laid a neat pass unto his path.
Two minutes later, Gordon doubled the lead with a spectacular shot from a free-kick, which left Senegalese goalie Niang Babagar with no option.
The Starlets multiplied in attack in their quest to increase their goal margin but Samuel Asamoah, who played a yeoman’s game lobbed widely with only the Senegalese goalie to beat in added-on time.
The Teranga Cubs hosts the return encounter on the weekend of November 19-21 with the winner qualifying for the continental championships slated for Rwanda next January.
The Starlets, winners in 1995 and 1999 missed out on the last championship held in Algeria.
Ghana – Isaac Bonney, Hamza Zakari, Isaac Afoakwa, Baba Abdul Rahman, Abraham Annan, Princebel Addico, Samuel Asamoah, Romeo Agban/John Kouffie, Adnan Mohammed/Joseph Gordon, Ofori Acheampong/Jacob Asiedu, John Nyamekye
Senegal – Niang Babagar, Diagne Diawanbou, Papa Faye, Ibrahim Diedhou, Hewe Diedhou, Nassadan Zain, Ndiang Sambe, Roger Gomis, Ibrahim Drame, Falbou Serigwe, Ntoye Faye