The Black Satellites of Ghana have won a fourth AFCON under 20 title after a 2-0 victory over Uganda in the finals of the African under 20 Championships which ended in Mauritania on Saturday.
Captain of the side Daniel Afriyie Barnieh led by example as he scored a brace to hand Ghana the victory on a day that is very significant in the country’s history; that is 6th March which is Independence Day.
The trophy takes Ghana’s tally to four at this level on the African continent with the last trophy coming in 2009, a year Ghana also conquered the world which till date remains Africa’s only triumph in the FIFA under 20 category at the world stage.
The satellites began the tournament with a resounding 4-0 victory over debutants Tanzania in the opening game. The game saw sixteen year old Abdul Fatawu Isaahaku who had been promoted to the side from the under 17 team steal the show as he scored a beauty of a goal for Ghana’s second. Abdul Fatawu (aka Abonku) spotted the Tanzanian goalkeeper off his mark and lifted the ball over 30yards into the back of the net. The Steadfast FC player’s eye for goal and his baller antics won him the Most Valuable Player of the match award. This was followed by a disappointing 0-0 draw against Morocco in the second group game. And further disappointment followed with a 2-1 loss to Gambia in the third group game which nearly led to Ghana’s elimination from the tournament. However, the team advanced to the quarter finals after qualifying as one of the third best placed teams after the group matches.
The satellites met Cameroon in the quarter finals winning 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after 120minutes of action. Coach Abdul Karim Zito’s side defied the odds a second time to win via penalties after achieving a similar feat in Benin during the WAFU Zone B qualifying tournament. They remain part of the very few Ghanaian teams that have made it to the next stage of competitions through the lottery of penalties.
Ghana then had an opportunity of revenge against Gambia in the semi-finals and revenging they did by winning 1-0 after 90minutes.
The victory in the final places Ghana at par with Egypt who have won the competition four times apiece. Nigeria remains the most successful side with seven titles to their name.
The team was led at the tournament by Management Committee Chairman Dr. Randy Abbey and Member Alhaj Abu Hassan Mahamadu Rhyzo who is also the Northern Regional Football Association (NRFA) Chairman.
At a stage in the quarter finals against Cameroon who until then hadn’t lost a game yet, there was the need to go beyond the rhetoric’s and push the boys to move past the quarter finals. The NRFA Chairman came in handy with a monetary pledge which he handed over to the team to spur them on to victory. After the execution of that task, Alhaj Rhyzo went further by doling out yet another sum to the technical body as well. A gesture many describe as one that remains to be seen by Management Committee Members of national teams at tournaments.
The team returned home on Sunday to a rousing welcome at the Airforce Base in Accra. The satellites were met on arrival by new Sports Minister honourable Mustapha Ussif, Prof Peter Twumasi, Director General of the National Sports Authority, Ghana Football Association (GFA) General Secretary Prosper Harrison Addo, GFA Vice President Mark Addo and GHALCA Chairman Mr. Kudjoe Fianoo among others and fans from all walks of life.
At the end of the competition, Abdul Fatawu Issahaku was adjudged the best player of the tournament after scoring two goals and contributing to many having played in all of Ghana’s matches. Goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim was adjudged the best goalkeeper of the competition. The Steadfast FC midfielder Abdul Fatawu Issahaku alongside goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim made it into the team of the tournament. Ghana’s Percious Boah missed out on the top scorer award after ending the competition with 3goals.
The team also had Uzair Alhassan from Tamale Utrecht in the north who started against Cameroon in the quarter final and played in the semi-final and the final match. Benjamin Aloma, a former Tanga FC player and now with Vision FC also played at left back during the tournament.
Among the backroom staff is Moahmmed Asamoah, the team’s welfare officer from Tamale and assistant coach Abdul Fatawu Salifu from Bolgatanga who is a former coach of Tanga FC and Bolga Juventus all in the Upper East Region.