A solid defensive performance coupled with some clinical finishing saw Ghana run out 2-0 winners over Korea in the Group B opener at the 2014 Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
Two defensive errors proved to be the undoing of a Korean team, which looked very good on the day but failed to take their chances and were made to pay for it dearly. A weak clearance allowed Issaka to set up Jane Ayieyam’s opener in the 17th minute before a defensive mix up allowed Sandra Owusu-Ansah to score a real poacher’s goal in the 50th minute.
In a first half where they looked the better team, Korea's inability to find a finish meant their chances constantly went to waste, an insufficiency, which they were penalized for when Ayieyam slotted home what proved to be one of the few chances the Ghanaians created in the half. The Ghanaians got their two-goal cushion early on in the second half thanks to another defensive error, Owusu-Ansah stealing in between defender and goalkeeper to slot home in the 50th minute. Despite going on to create a catalogue of chances in the second half, a combination of poor finishing and heroic defending mean the Korean’s are still looking for their first goal of the tournament.
The first 10 minutes of the game showed both the strengths and weaknesses of the two. The Ghanaians showed their pressing abilities, with one such pressing sequence led by Owusu-Ansah nearly giving them the lead early on, but their inability to hold on to the ball opening them up to constant attacks from the Koreans. The two-time finalists took full advantage of this using their pace and quick feet to manage four shots on target in that period though they failed to trouble Adams in post for the Black Maidens. Ghana opened the scoring with their next real attempt at goal. Captain Fuseini’s long clearance was not properly dealt with by the Korean defence, allowing Issaka to run unto the loose ball before firing it across the box to Ayieyam.
The striker was quick to bring the ball under control before slotting into the bottom right corner beyond the reach of Myung Sun. Korea were almost back level in less than a minute as a miscued clearance bounced awkwardly to catch Adams off guard but the goalkeeper reacted quickly to smother the loose ball. The Koreans should have had the equaliser in the 24th minute when Anima was pressured into losing the ball in the box but with the goalkeeper on the turf, Hyung Sim was only able to drive her effort at Annan who was stationed on the line though replays seemed to show the Ghanaian had handled the ball.
The incident preceded a six-minute period of even more “bodies on the line” defending from the Ghanaians as their inability to hold on to possession invited the Koreans unto them but the Maidens managed to hold onto their one goal advantage. After the half hour mark, however, the game seemed to settle down with the Ghanaians finally managing to keep a little more control of possession though they were still losing it more often than their coach Evans Adotey preferred prompting shouts of “abotr3” “abotr3”(patience, patience) from him every time his players were on the ball. Ghana almost got a second goal late in the half, as more ingenuity from Issaka saw her free down the wing and with her deep cross luring goalkeeper Myung Sun out of her goal and into no man’s land, Niber-Lawrence was presented with a singular opportunity. The youngster, however, could not manage to get her effort at goal before the covering defenders blocked her effort leaving the Ghanaians to go into the break with just the one goal advantage.
Korea started the second half as they had ended the first, with a lot of determination to get that equaliser. The Ghanaians found the net, however, in the 50th minute through Owusu-Ansah. A defensive mix-up between Sin Jong and Myung Sun proved the undoing of the Koreans as Owusu-Ansah stole in between the two, went round the keeper with a neat piece of skill before slotting the ball into an empty net to double the Maiden’s lead. The Koreans seemed shell-shocked as the Ghanaians looked to stamp their authority but the Asians were buck to their swash buckling best and should have at least pulled one back around the hour mark, coming really close three times in as many minutes.
First, it was Pom Hyang who wasted the clearest chance of the three on the hour mark, completing missing her kick after good work from a team-mate had set her up in the box with the net gaping. Good play from captain Ji Hyang in the 62nd minute set up colleague Jong Sim but with Adams, bearing down on her the forward hit her effort wide off goal, before an awkward bounce in the box beat the keeper forcing Fuseini into a goal line clearance. The goal-line heroics continued as Anane joined the list with a goal line clearance of her own a few minutes later from a corner.
The Korean’s domination of the game continued as they kept more of the ball and looked to get themselves back into the game. Their bad form in front of goal continued though and a great ball across the face of goal was missed by all the Korean’s with five minutes of normal time left. Ghana saw out the result to start the tournament with a win, boosting their chances of making it through the group.
Ghana's next game is against Germany on Tuesday.