NEW DELHI, Oct 12:Luis Norton de Matos made four changes to the side that had put up a valiant fight against Colombia in the last match. Namit Deshpande, Abhijit Sarkar, Rahim Ali and Ninthoinganba Meetei made way for Jitendra Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Suresh Wangjam and Aniket Jadav. This meant they lined up in the 4-3-3 formation with Aniket, Naorem and Rahul Kannoly as the front trio.
Ghana, on the other hand, started in a 4-2-3-1, with the two wingers Sadiq Ibrahim and Edmund Mensah handed the responsibility to overwhelm the opposing defence with their pace.
The start was frantic and end-to-end as Ghana had a goal disallowed in the sixth minute after carving open the Indian back-line. After a blistering counter-attack, the travellers were two-on-one with Dheeraj Singh, but the final pass saw Aiyah being deemed off-side.
Soon, it became the trend of the encounter. India made some inroads in the opponent territory but failed to hold possession and every counter-attack became an acid-test for the Indian back-four.
In the 20th minute, Dheeraj had to parry the ball away for a corner after Ibrahim got the better of Stalin and attempted a shot from close range.
On two more occasions, the ball missed the target by a whisker.
Boris, who was impressive in the first half an hour in both defending and overlap, committed a dangerous foul at the edge of the box when trying to win a ball in front of Gymfi. The resultant free-kick, though ballooned over the bar.
The first blood was finally drawn at the cusp of the half-time whistle. Sadiq once again tricked his way past Stalin and attempted a shot from an acute angle that was thwarted by Dheeraj. The rebound, however, fell to an unmarked Ayiah , who was lurking in front of the goal and he made no mistake in sending the ball into an empty net.
Despite another half of gritty defending, India went into the break a goal down, with their hopes of making an upset fading.
The away side doubled their lead in the 51st minute. Mensah was fed with a sublime through pass on the left flank by Leveh and he had a good few yards of free space ahead of him. His first delivery from the left was cleared by Jitendra, but the ball again went to him. He then played it to Aiyah , whose low shot at the far post gave Dheeraj no chance.
On the hour-mark, Ibrahim Sulley had gone one-on-one with the Indian shot-stopper but tried to lob it over him but the Manipur boy was alert and held it easily. Sulley once again tried to catch him off the line four minutes later, but to the ecstasy of the fans present, the effort landed on the roof of the net.
Much of the second half was played in pedestrian pace, except for Ghana’s attacks on the break. Aniket Jadav didn’t get much help up front and failed to hold onto whatever deliveries came his way. The towering Rahim Ali was thrown into the mix by Matos as India shifted to a 4-4-1-1.
India finally registered a shot on target in the 79th minute as Rahul’ shot from 25 yards was held safe by Daniad Ibrahim. Only three minutes later, debutant Lalengmawia tested the goalkeeper again after a string of good passes, but again it failed to pose any stern test for the Ghana custodian.
Ghana also looked more interested to pass it among themselves and get ready for the knock-out stage as the intensity of their attacks waned. This made India a bit adventurous but they had to pay the price soon.
Jeakson Singh lost the ball in the midfield to Leveh, who played it to Richard Danso. The substitute exploited the space behind India’s backline and his low shot went into the net.
Only a couple of minutes later, Ghana scored their fourth goal. Ibrahim Sulley won the ball on the right flank and pulled the trigger but his shot rattled the woodwork and came out. The rebound, unfortunately, went to skipper Emmanuel Toku who slotted it home past a diving Boris, who was trying to pull off a goal-line save.
What looked like a gritty display in the first half, ended up being a thrashing. India returned from the gala empty-handed, losing all three matches and scoring a solitary goal. The Black Starlets, on the other hand, made it to the next round.
Source: The Sangai Express