Ghana stayed on course to lift the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy for the third time as they defeated Niger in an all-African round of 16 clash on Wednesday.
The Black Starlets made their dominance count, scoring a goal in each half to win 2-0 and so secure a quarter-final spot. They will face African champions Mali on Saturday in Guwahati, a repeat of the Cup of Nations final, which the Malians emerged victorious.
Ghana dominated the first half, creating 13 attempts to Niger’s lone effort. The West Africans created the first chance on 25 minutes, as Edmund Arko-Mensah’s powerful strike produced a top save from Niger goalkeeper Khaled Lawali.
The Ghanaians had to wait until first-half stoppage time to finally break through, as they were awarded a penalty after Eric Ayiah was cut down in the Niger box by Farouk Idrissa. The Ghana captain stepped up to convert the spot-kick for his third goal of the tournament.
Photo: Eric Ayiah of Ghana celebrates scoring the opening goal
The Black Starlets kept pressing forward after the break, with Gideon Mensah missing a great opportunity to double Ghana’s lead from close range. Ayiah could have had a second penalty goal after Idrissa fouled Emmanuel Toku in the Niger box, but Lawali was equal to his spot-kick effort.
The second goal would arrive in the final moments, as substitute Richard Danso’s strike proved too strong for Lawali to keep out of his net, as Ghana capped a convincing performance at the Dr. DY Patil Stadium.
Ghana XI against Niger:Danlad Ibrahim-Najeeb Yakubu, Rashid Alhassan, Bismark Owusu Terry, Gideon Mensah, Isaac Gyamfi, Gabriel Leveh, Edmund Arko-Mensah, Ibrahim Sulley-Emmanuel Toku, Eric Ayiah