Ghana’s U-17 team will once again be on the stage that propelled most of the country’s talent to stardom in the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be staged in India. The tournament starts this weekend with the Starlets kicking off against Columbia.
FIFA U-17 World Cup record
The 1990s were a truly remarkable era for the Black Starlets, winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup twice – in 1991 and 1995 – reaching four out of five finals and finishing third in the 1999 edition. Some of the starlets from the 1990s, including Samuel Kuffour, Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien, would go on to represent the senior side at the FIFA World Cup™ in the 2000s. Since those heady days though, except for a semi-final berth in 2007, the Ghanaians have had something of a barren run, reaching the global showpiece just twice in the last seven attempts.
Road to India
The two-time champions reached their first U-17 World Cup for a decade in, at times, stop-start circumstances. After edging Burkina Faso 6-5 over two legs in the second round of qualification, they saw off Côte d’Ivoire to progress to the CAF Africa U-17 Cup of Nations in Gabon. Once there, they hit their stride, defeating Cameroon 4-0 and the hosts 5-0, the latter result securing their spot as the first African side on the plane to India 2017. After that, the Ghanaians did not score again in regulation time, drawing 0-0 with Guinea in their final group game and with Niger in the semi-finals, winning on penalties to reach the final, where they lost 1-0 to Mali.
Former Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak coach Paa Kwesi Fabin took charge of the Black Starlets in October 2011, meaning he has reached the U-17 World Cup at the third time of asking. Despite a strong showing in Gabon, he has hinted at alterations for India 2017.
“We will surely make some additions to the squad before the World Cup,” he said. “We had some of the guys who got injured, which prevented them from joining the team in Gabon. We hope to get these boys and we will also do more scouting to try and get a few others as well.”
9 – goals scored by Ghana at Gabon 2017, to add to their nine scored in the qualifiers. No teams scored more at the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations finals, despite the Black Starlets failing to score in their final four hours at the tournament.