Ghana coach Paa Kwesi Fabin is positive that his Starlets will be third time lucky as they face recent nemesis Mali in the quarterfinals of the U-17 World Cup.
The West Africans clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati Saturday morning.
Fabin believes there would be no repeat of that fateful night on 28 May when they lost 1-0 in the final of the Afcon, adding his team has what it takes to go all the way.
“If you get beaten by somebody in some other competition it doesn’t mean we will lose again when we meet. We have prepared well and we are capable of lifting the title,” he stated ahead of the match.
Similar in style to their counterparts on Saturday, Ghana face yet another opponent from Africa after beating Niger 2-0 in the Round of 16. Having topped the group which had hosts India in it, Ghana have only been defeated once in this tournament and by a narrow 1-0 margin at the hands of the USA. The 1991 and 1995 champions have returned to this tournament for the first time since 2007, and will harbour hopes of bringing back their glory days from two decades ago.
Goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim has kept three clean sheets in a 4-2-3-1 system that sees skipper and star forward Eric Ayiah supported by an ultra-attacking trio of Edmund Arko-Mensah, Ibrahim Sulley and Ibrahim Sadiq, who comes back after serving his one match suspension. However, Fabin is sweating over the fitness of centre-back Bismark Owusu and if declared unfit, Abdul Razak Yusif will take his place in defence.
While five players including Richard Danso, who has come off from the bench to score twice, are in danger of being suspended from the next game, poor returns in front of goal will be a concern for Ghana. Ayiah even missed a penalty against Niger and they have been susceptible to squander easy chances in the first half of the game.
What tilts the favour against Ghana is that the last two meetings against Mali have been won by the sub-Saharan nation, the latest one coming a month ago in a 2-1 loss in a friendly in Abu Dhabi during preparations for the World Cup.
The northeast of India will witness an all-African battle royale that will ensure the last team standing from the continent in the semi-finals. For Ghana, a third loss in a span of five months will be met with bitter taste apart from ouster from the World Cup as Mali will look to repeat their heroics yet again.