Ghana’s Under-17 World Cup opponents, Colombia secured a 1-0 win against spirited Minerva Punjab (under-20) on Wednesday.
It was their first warm-up game since arriving in India exactly a week ago.
The goal came in the first half through striker Deyman Cortes.
The Chandigarh side showed a lot of grit in the second half as they came close to finding an equaliser on numerous occasions. But the South American defenders — led by captain and centre back Thomas Gutierrez, goalkeeper Melo Cabarcas and Nicolas Gomez Londono (came in as a substitute) — made series of good tackles and saves to deny Minerva players a worthy equaliser.
The match turned out to be a tale of two halves. The first half, despite early intensity by both sides, was dominated by the Colombians, who build up waves of attack through their wings. Wingers Jaminton Campaz and Yadir Bentacur kept Minerva side on their toes throughout the first half.
But it was Campaz who finally managed to cut deep into the Minerva defence, through a brilliant diagonal pass by midfielder Andres Perea, and provided a lofted cross to Cortes inside the box, who made no mistakes in putting the ball in the net.
Colombian coach Orlando Restrepo congratulated the Minerva side for the gruelling but fair fight they gave.
“I think Minerva played fair football, they gave us the perfect warm-up game,” the Colombian manager said.
“We played all of our squad; we got to attack in first half, and were made to defend in the second. I am pleased with the effort in new conditions,” he added.
Minerva manager Wangkhen Khogen too was pleased with how his boys played against a football giant.
“I am so proud of my boys. They put up such a fine performance against a big team like Colombia,” Khogen said.
“They were a bit scared in the first half but soon they realised it’s just football and took the fight to Colombia.”
Goal scorer Cortes had an injury scare in the second half as he hopped out of the ground and received treatment on the sidelines for long but the manager Restrepo confirmed that there is nothing to worry about and he will be fine and ready for the World Cup.