Ghana has claimed its first ever FIFA Under-20 World Cup, defeating Brazil in a heart-stopping series of penalty kicks in Cairo, Egypt late Friday after a scoreless tie through 120 minutes of regulation play and extra time.
Ghana's Under-20 national team wrapped up a fantastic three-week performance by edging Brazil on penalty kicks, 4-3, to win their first title in their third appearance in the final of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
The title for the Black Satellites is the first for an African team at the Under-20 level, despite the dominance of African nations in the youth categories over the last decades. The title means a lot to the entire continent, said Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh. "I think this is a wonderful, historic event for Africa. Now at least Africans will believe in themselves that they can do it. We have done it, we have shown the way, we have shown the path. Luckily for us Nigeria will be staging the World Cup, Under-17 very soon, then South Africa 2010. So within these two things Africa will surely have a lot of hope and confidence that they can do it like how we did it here," he said.
Ghana was forced to fight short-handed after seeing defender Daniel Addo sent off by the Belgian referee following what seemed like an innocuous tackle in the first half.
The Satellites followed with an hour and a half of inspired play defending as a unit and attacking when merited, and holding the feared Brazilian attack despite their numerical disadvantage. Tetteh says the strong defense proved his team's resolve. "Today the nature of the game showed how strong we were at the back, and that was a very good thing for the team. A team that can adjust to problems quickly is a very good team, and that is exactly what we did," he said.
Having reached the penalty shootout after a hectic extra period, the Ghanaians again looked lost when they missed their third and fourth attempts from the spot.
But Brazil failed on two chances of their own that would have sealed the title. When Ghanaian goalkeeper Daniel Agyei then saved Brazilian Alex Teixeira's effort, Emmanuel Badu clinched the cup by placing his shot in the corner of the net. Tetteh said the victory was merited. "I thought we deserved to win the tournament because throughout the matches we have been so good. Although today's ball game was a different ball game, but better still my team all the time has demonstrated power, strength, energy, resistance resolute, and it showed once again," he said.
Ghanaian forward Dominic Adiyiah was rewarded with the golden ball as the tournament's best player.
The sporting attention of Africa and the world now turns to Nigeria, where the Under-17 World Cup kicks off next week. Along with the hosts, teams from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Malawi will represent Africa.