The Black Satellites face a stern test against their European counterparts after losing their opening game against France
The match, which forms part of Matchday two of the group stages, will take place at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium – a venue where Ghana were humbled 3-1 by France in their opening game on Friday.
The Ghanaians know that the game is a make or break one – a decisive game that will either book them on the next flight out of Turkey or keep them in the race to becoming the world’s best youth country.
With Ghana coming into this tournament on the back of massive expectations fueled by the quality of talent in the squad, the game against Spain will be viewed as a test of the team’s mental strength, and potential to go all the way.
Ghana began the Africa Youth Championship in Algeria in March this year similarly with a loss, and went on to bounce back, making it all the way to the final. That only went to consolidate the cliché claim that Ghana are “slow starters” in tournaments, a claim the current squad would love to prove with a win against Spain.
Coach Sellas Tetteh – himself a World Cup winner in 2009 - knows just how much tonight’s game means, and how important it is for his charges to put the opening day debacle behind.
The Spaniards, whose senior team are world and European champions, with their U-21s also European champions, thrashed the USA 4-1 in their opening game, and will prove a stern test for Tetteh’s side.
Many in Ghana have already conceded defeat, given Spain’s sheer dominance, but Tetteh – being the eternal optimist that he is – believes his side can pull an upset and avoid an early knockout.
”As we all know, nothing is impossible in football,” Tetteh said, and was also quick to point out that the loss to the French laid bare a number of flaws that his team will collectively work on. “I believe there were a few things there we could take home.”
Tetteh is expected, per events in the first game, to make a few changes to his starting line-up. Baba Abdul Rahman is expected to start at left-back, with Richmond Boakye Yiadom – scorer of Ghana’s consolation goal – also expected to start.
There are also strong indications that either tough Seidu Salifu, Kennedy Ashia or Clifford Aboagye will get to start in midfield, with vice captain Michael Anaba the likeliest starter to lose his place.
Ghana and Spain have met only once previously in the FIFA U20 World Cup; in the quarter-final of the 1999 edition. Spain beat Ghana on penalties to advance to the next stage.
Ghana would 10 years on go on to win the tournament, but the impact of that loss still lingers. Revenge, maybe?