Ghana’s Under-17 male football team coach, Paa Kwesi Fabin, has stated emphatically that his main target is to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup after more than two decades when Ghanaians last laid hands on the trophy.
The Starlets trainer said the team’s long absence from the competition has strengthened the team’s resolve to reclaim the lost glory as Coach Fabin is confident that his youngsters have “prepared very hard in order to make an impact”.
Coach Fabin, who guided the team to claim silver at the African Championship in Gabon last May, was confident that his charges would take the world by storm as their illustrious predecessors did in 1991 and 1995 when the Starlets won gold at a time none of the current players was born.
“We are not travelling to India just to add up to the numbers. We are going to work hard to win the ultimate but I don’t want to promise. I just want to tell Ghanaians that they should expect a very good tournament from the team,” the coach stated in an interview with the Graphic Sports last Sunday.
His positive posture came on the heels of a call by President Nana Akufo-Addo, urging the Starlets to make an impact in India by returning to the country with the U-17 World Cup trophy.
The President’s expectation was communicated to the team by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah, during a visit to the team’s camp in Prampram last Friday ahead of their departure tonight for Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. “The President is waiting for nothing but gold from you,” the minister charged the Starlets.
Ghana last participated in the juvenile tournament at South Korea 2007, and after a decades absence, Coach Fabin carries the weight of expectation of a nation which was fed with a diet of successes at the Under-17 World Cup in the 1990s, with German Coach, Otto Pfister, winning gold in 1991, before the late Sam Arday guided his talented youngsters to rule the world in Ecuador in 1995.
In between those successes, coaches Isaac Paha (2003) and the late Emmanuel Afranie (1997) also led the Starlets to finish as runners-up, with the late Cecil Jones Attuquayefio steering a talented squad, spearheaded by Michael Essien to claim bronze in New Zealand in 1999.
Ghana play their opening Group A game against Colombia in New Delhi on October 6, while hosts India face USA.