Ghana Under-20 ready for Nigeria threat

Black Satellites

Black Satellites

A generation of stars which included Sammy Adjei, Laryea Kingston, Peter Ofori-Quaye, Owusu Afriyie, Awuley Quaye Jnr and Baffour Gyan beat the Flying Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 in Accra to rob them of the 1999 Africa Youth Championship title.

Since that famous victory at the Accra Sports Stadium courtesy a Kingston strike, the Black Satellites have had their third continental title six years ago whereas their opponents are the most successful team in the African Youth Championship with six titles under their belt (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2005, 2011).

In their last clash four years ago, the Eagles soared over the Satellites with a 2-1 win in a Group B clash at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg, en route to winning their sixth title.

However, a distinct motivation that takes its roots from the rivalry between the two sides is driving the two sides into battle today for a place in the final of this year’s tournament in Senegal.

With both teams guaranteed a place in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, the motivation for the Satellites is the pride to follow in the footsteps of the 2009 generation who won the African title in Rwanda and followed it up with a historic World title in Egypt.

Today’s semi-final battle has come earlier than expected, but Satellites coach Sellas Tetteh is unperturbed by the threat presented by his free-scoring opponents and is confident his charges have what it takes to qualify for the final.

“I’m not afraid to face Nigeria in the semi-finals. At the beginning, we were not fixed on playing a particular opponent. We will pick ourselves up and try to beat Nigeria. At this competition, every game has its own realities,” said coach Tetteh, who masterminded Ghana’s triumphs in 2009.

Nigeria finished top of Group A and the free-scoring Eagles team, who scored nine goals in three group games, are bent on stopping Ghana’s march in order to extend their dominance in the African Youth Championship.

The Nigerians will be looking up to dependable youngsters, including Ezeh Chiderak, Awoniyi Taiwo, Abdullahi Alpha and Idowu Akinjide to frustrate and deny the Satellites an opportunity to win the title for the fourth time.

But coach Tetteh, who guided the Satellites to the final of the last tournament in Algeria, will be counting on experienced players such as Clifford Aboagye, Benjamin Tetteh, Owusu Bempah, Mohammed Yakubu and Kingsley Fobi to stop the Eagles and book a place in Sunday’s final in Dakar, Senegal.

Credit: Graphic Sports 

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