The female national soccer team of Ghana, the Black Princess last Tuesday shocked host, Canada 1-0 in their opening match of the on-going 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup at the Toronto’s National Soccer Stadium in Canada.
Ghana’s goal came in the 22nd minute when striker Sherifatu Sumaila, from the midfield, swept the ball pass several defenders before connecting team-mate Edem Atovor whose feeble cross Canada’s goalkeeper could not bring under control the first time, for Sumaila to take advantage to hit the ball home from close range.
It was in their first match in Group A, where Finland lost 1-2 to DPR Korea, Germany defeated USA 2-0 and China (PR) settled 1-1 draw with Brazil also on Tuesday.
The Africans’ victory has left Canada with little margin for error in their remaining Group A matches against Finland and Korea (DPR), who were 2006 Champions. Reports from the venue indicated that the match was very entertaining and fast-paced as both teams struggled for goals that placed heavy burdens on their respective goalkeepers to work overtime.
Canada defender Kadeisha Buchanan proved too tough for the Africans before and after the goal with several interceptions to deny the African side of victory till the deadlock was broken in the 22nd minute.
However, what was described as one of Canada’s best chances came just before the end of the first half, unmarked Emma Fletcher, in a personal effort saw her shot hit Ghana’s side post and went off-target. Supported by cheers of a vociferous home-crowd of nearly 14,834, the home team increase in their attacks in the second half and forced the Africans in their own half.
Their attempts were, however, frustrated by Ghana’s goalkeeper Victoria Agyei who in the end earned the Player of the Match, as she proved too strong for Canada’s strikers. Particularly when Nichelle Prince added more power to the Canada’s attacks but her clear shot for the equalizer entered the opened arms of goalkeeper Agyei.
In injury time, Canada’s Ashley Campbell and Buchanan came close one with a header, and another with a shot but were not enough to secure their wishes.
Canada’s Coach Andrew Olivieri told journalists after the match: “We've already moved on. At the final whistle, we were already focused on our next game. Against Finland, it will be do or die, and we have to learn to adapt to the other team's style of play. It took us the half of the game tonight to learn that, and by then it was too late.
“I’m satisfied with the energy I’ve seen, but I can’t say that I’m satisfied with our performance. Playing a World Cup at home, it’s not too much pressure for my players, but it’s a new pressure. And they’ll have to learn to live with it in this tournament, and to win the important games despite this pressure.”
Ghana’s Coach Bashir Hayford also told journalists after the match, “It was a good game; I appreciated all that I've seen. And at the end of the day, the best team won. We already learnt our first lesson: in a World Cup, nothing will be easy. We suffered, but we won.
“I had said before the tournament that we had the potential to win the World Cup. I don’t know if we’ll do it, but we do see some signs. And we sent a signal that we’re not here for fun – we’re here for business. If I didn’t want to win the World Cup, we wouldn’t be here.”
Yesterday in Group C, England was scheduled to play Korea Republic, with Mexico going against Nigeria.
In Group D, France was also expected to play Costa Rica and New Zealand against Paraguay.