Ghana has reached her third FIFA Youth Championship final since 1993. With this, coach Sellas Tetteh has joined Ghanaian coaching greats Osam Duodoo and E. K . Afranie as some of the best youth coaches to have evolved from Africa. Black Satellites 2009 have joined other great squads from 2001 and 1993 in the hall of U-20 fame.
Whereas some have weathered this important achievement as nothing new, others have said Ghana was just lucky. People must learn to be more thankful than this. Since the FIFA Youth Championship commenced in 1977, only 13 countries have featured in the finals. Egypt 2009 inclusive, this is the third time Ghana has joined the 13-country club. Only Argentina and Brazil who have featured in the finals 7 and 8 times respectively played in more U-20 finals than Ghana (3 times in the finals).
What Sellas Tetteh and his boys have achieved in this tournament this far is remarkable by U-20 standards. Let us consider African countries for instance. In the 32-year history of the FIFA Youth Championship, the only other country to have played in the finals is Nigeria (1989 and 2005). Never in the history of the tournament has an African team scored 18 goals prior to the finals. In 1999 Nigeria managed only 9 goals while they netted 9 in 2005. Even without featuring in the finals, the Black Satellites have netted a whopping 16 goals. This is more than Nigeria (the closest African rival) could manage in 2005 and 1995 combined (considered as their two best performances).
The ‘ efficiency over aesthetics’ philosophy of the Black Satellites 2009, places them far above any African nation and pecks them among some of the best nations at this level. For instance, let us consider the goal king race. Four players have dazzled the world at this level with their goal scoring abilities – Saviola (Argentina) with 11 goals in 2001, Adailton (Brazil) with 10 goals in 1997, Ramon Diaz (Argentina) with 8 goals in 1977 and Dominic Adiyiah (Ghana) with 8 goals in 2009 and one game outstanding.
If one considers that in 2001 Saviola’s 11 goals includes 3 penalties and Adailton’s 10 goals came with 2 penalties, then it means that all four players have scored 8 goals in open play. Adiyiah stands the chance of becoming the best striker in the 32-year history of the tournament given that he has one more game to play.
Winning the cup is going to be great, but playing in the finals is enough a statement to the world that beyond the present Black Stars, Ghana has safe hands to place its football future. When the roll of one of Ghana’s best youth teams is called, honourable mention will be made of the excellent leadership of Andre Ayew; the sublime technical skills of Sellas Tetteh and his crew; the managerial abilities of Mr. Jordan Anagbla and his Black Satellites Management Team and the entire playing body.
Speaking of which I am proud to introduce the men who got separated from the boys. Many of these boys will propel the future of Ghana: Daniel Agyei, Samuel Inkoom, David Addy, Bright Addae, Daniel Addo, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Rabiu Mohammed, Abeiku Quansah, Dede Ayew, Dominic Adiyah, Ransford Osei, Awako Gladson, Jonathan Mensah, Kassenu Ghanadi, Opoku Agyemang, Latif Salifu, Joseph Addo, John Benson, Bright Addae, Philip Boampong, Daniel Opare and Robert Dabuo.
Surely, the Black Satellites will need to work on a number of their deficiencies, but how does that deny them of the props they deserve? They had problems to fix after the first game, we all thought, but in the end, they are in the finals. If anyone is expecting a perfect game, then I guess he is looking at the wrong team. Winning is better than playing well. If you can do both then you are bless. For now, we are winning and that should be enough.
Congratulations to you all!