NAVI MUMBAI: Ghana are up against Niger in an all African pre-quarterfinal clash of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
The Black Starlets surprised some after topping Group A ahead of Colombia, United States, and hosts India. The West African nation were tied on 6 points with Colombia and USA, but thanks to their better goal difference they won the group.
Although Ghana finished top of their group but they have not been convincing as expected. Their defense has, however, remain compact with only one goal conceded in their three games so far. The also look like a team that will get into gear as the tournament goes on.
Paa Kwesi Fabin-coached side may not be crowded with several notable names but they play as a collective unit and that could prove pivotal during the knockout stages.
Skipper Eric Ayiah has been arguably the player of the tournament for Ghana with two goals to his name, he is well supported by Sadiq Ibrahim. Richard Danso is also one to watch in attack.
On the other hand, Niger, despite a lack of footballing infrastructure compared to fellow African teams in the competition, has emerged as one of the surprise qualifiers to the knockout round.
The tournament debutantes was a candidate for early elimination after pitted in the same group with Brazil, Spain and North Korea.
However, the Young Means pulled a surprise over North Korea to win opening Group C game 1-0 and set up themselves for qualification as one of the four best third-place finishers.
Niger do not boast the same quality as Ghana but their only scorer of the campaign Salim Abdourahmane has his own upfront while skipper Karim Tinni has been their best player.
For the record, these two teams faced off in the semifinals of the 2017 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in May at Gabon where Ghana won 6-5 on penalties after the game ended in a goalless stalemate.
Ghana is more likely to take this one. They have a better team and Niger have have struggled to score goals as the Francisco Castano Benito’s team scored only once in their three group matches.