The Black Starlets' 1995 squad and the curse of knee injuries

Black Starlet 456789 Black Starlet 1995 squad after wining the U-17 FIFA World Cup

Fri, 1 Jul 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

When discussing Ghana's best U-17 squads in the country's history, the 1995 team is likely to come to mind first.

The team, led by the late Sam Ardy, was full of talented players. Unsurprisingly, they won Ghana's second and final U-17 World Cup title.

The Starlets won their group, which included hosts Ecuador, Japan, and the United States, with a perfect record, winning all three games.

Ghana advanced to the semi-finals after beating Portugal 2-0 in the quarter-finals thanks to captain Emmanuel Bentil and Attakora Amaniampong. They then defeated Oman 3-1 in the semi-finals to advance to the final against Brazil.

Against all odds, the Starlet emerged victorious, defeating football powerhouse Brazil 3-2 to claim the title. Ghana's scorers included Baba Sule, Emmanuel Benti, and Abu Idrissu.

With 13 goals, they finished the tournament as one of the top scorers. Due to their potential, players such as Emmanuel Bentil, Baba Sule, Abu Iddrisu, Dini Kamara, Stephen Appiah, Awudu Issaka, and Bashiru Gambo were tipped to reach the top level of football.

Unfortunately, Sam Ardy's talented 18-man squad was unable to reach their full potential due to identical injuries.

Emmanuel Bentil revealed in 2020 that the team consulted marine spirits and performed rituals to win the trophy in 1995.

Bentil said that as a result of their rituals, most of the squad suffered persistent knee injuries.

“Not like the way it happened to the whole group. Most of us ended up with knee injuries,” he told Lifestyle TV.

Bentil signed with Bayern Munich after the tournament. However, he did not make a first-team appearance. He played for the reserve side before being eventually released.

He hit rock bottom, playing for clubs in lower-division leagues in Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, and the United States of America.

Here are some players from the 1995 squad that had a challenging career due to injury

Baba Sule

Baba Sule was one of the top talents in the 1995 squad. He signed with Real Mallorca after the tournament. He initially battled with illness, and his time at Mallorca was cut short.

When he found his feet and signed for Reak Madrid. Madrid loan him out to Leganes where he made a name for himself.

When Madrid decided to recall him to join Madrid for pre-season he got injured and never found himself again.

"Real Madrid were preparing to go to Japan for the pre-season. Before that, things were going better for me in Leganes. So, they wanted to take me to Japan, so they sent Vincente Del-Bosque, who was the sports director of the journal side was present to watch my match. That very match was like a test for me and if I'm able to do well So, it was in that very match that I got my injury," he shared his sad story in an interview with TV3 in 2020.

"I was alone. I was controlling the ball and while on a turn I fell. When I fell, I thought it was nothing serious, but when I stood up, trying to move then I realized it was a very serious injury," he added.

After being on the sideline for several months, he returned and suffered the same injury in his first match. He went under the knife again, and that was it for Sule.

Attakora Amaniampong

Because of injuries, the former Frieburg player was unable to reach the top level or break through to the Black Stars.

However, in a previous interview, Amaniampong stated that he is grateful to have a good living after football.

"Even though I didn’t play to expectations like others, I'm very proud of where God has brought me because looking at some situations some of my teammates are in. I can see is far better,” he said in an interview with Ahotor FM in 2020.

Awudu Issaka

Awudu Issaka, like Amaniampong, stated that while he did not achieve his dream of playing at the highest level due to injuries, playing abroad was sufficient.

"I had a big dream, but it was unfortunate that I was hurt by a persistent injury. I thank God for allowing me to travel abroad in search of greener pastures. It's not too bad," stated as quoted by footballghana in 2020.

Aside from the U-17 World Cup, not much can be said about Awudu Issaka's career.

Stephen Appiah

Among the 18-man squad, Stephen Appiah was the only one to become a Ghana Football icon and gain international acclaim.

Following the World Cup in 1995, he joined Udinese, then Parma, and finally Juventus. When he joined the Biaconeris on loan in 2003, he became the club's first Ghanaian player before signing a permanent deal in 2004.

Despite his global success, Appiah was unable to reach the pinnacle due to injuries.

Stephen Appiah later joined Fenerbache, where his injury situation worsened, resulting in a contract dispute with the Turkish club.

That was the declining point of the former Black Stars captain.


Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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