Today in history: Ghana rule football at U-17 level
On 31st August, 1991 the Black Starlet of Ghana defeated Spain by a goal to nil to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy.
Ghana's first-ever FIFA U-17 World Championship title was richly deserved. Able to call on just the right blend of individual talent and team spirit, the Ghanaians were never afraid to take the initiative and were ultimately rewarded for their enterprising approach. Expertly coached by master German tactician Otto Pfister, their made-to-measure 1-3-4-2 formation invariably had opponents on the back foot from the first whistle. If the team had a weak spot it was in attack, where they sometimes had trouble converting all their chances, but this could be explained by the fact that they had the youngest squad of all the sides in the competition, with an average age of just 16 years and 1 month. Top of the class for Ghana's youngsters were Kofi Mbeah, Mohammed Gargo, sweeper Isaac Asare, and ace marksman Nii Odartey Lamptey, who scored four goals.
Ghana exhibited an attacking oriented football and ended up beating the Europeans by a goal to nil through Emmanuel Duah in the 77th minute.
Ghana were drawn in group D with Cuba, Uruguay and Spain. They edged Cuba 2-1 in their opener, before beating Uruguay 2-0 and settled for a one all draw with Spain in their final group game. The Black Starlets defeated Brazil by a goal to nil in the quarters and won 4-2 on penalties in a very difficult semi final game which ended goalless draw in regulation time.
Player of the Tournament
The adidas Golden Ball could only go to one of the members of the victorious Ghanaian side, and so it was, with Nii Odartey Lamptey taking home a very special souvenir from his Italian sojourn. Lamptey was the beating heart of a very good side. His fast feet, speed of thought, and clever interplay with captain Nana Alexander Opoku and fellow midfielders Mohammed Gargo and Emmanuel Duah were on display for all to see. His willingness to get into the box was critical too, and his four goals made him joint top -goalscorer.
Edson Arantes Dos Nacimento, Pele he is popularly called indicated that he expected him to be a world star in the near future, but the Ghana international never attained a world class level as a footballer.
Marcelo Gallardo (ARG), Juan Sebastián Verón (ARG), Adriano (BRA), Emmanuel Duah (GHA), Nii Odartey Lamptey (GHA), Alessandro Del Piero (ITA).
Of the 7 players, who were expected to make a hit in global football, only 2 lived to the billing, Sebastain Veron and Del Piero, with both playing at the FIFA World Cup and the latter even won it in 2006 with Italy.
The men who made Ghana proud
Ben Owu (Gk), Sebastian Barnes, Isaac Asare, Kofi Nimo, Mohammed Gargo, Yaw Preko (-72'), Nii Odartey Lamptey, Nana Opoku, Emmanuel Duah, Daniel Addo, Kofi Mbeah
Substitutes: Samuel Kuffourwillie Brown (+72') Abdul Migima, Joseph Essien, samuel Kissi, Mark Edusei, Ali Jarra.
Ghana won their second title at the U-17 level when they defeated Brazil 3-2 in Ecuador 1995 championship.