Ghana’s Black Satellites failed in their bid for a 2019 World Cup ticket after suffering group stage elimination from the on-going Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations Saturday afternoon.
Coach Jimmy Corbblah’s side got their campaign off to a bright start by beating Burkina Faso 2-0 but back-to-back defeats to Senegal and then Mali today see them out of the competition and by extension, miss one of Africa’s four World Cup slots.
Ghana simply needed to avoid defeat at Stade Général Seyni Kountché in Niamey in the final group game but were undone by a somewhat fortuitous strike in the 53rd minute by Hadji Drame.
A throw-in down Ghana’s left saw Drame succeeding in lobbing the ball from an acute angle over goalkeeper Manaf Nurudeen to break the deadlock.
Ghana huffed and puffed in their attempt for an equalizer and always looked vulnerable at the back but Drame’s strike remained the game’s decider.
Mali thus proceed as second-placed team in Group B with 6 points and join Senegal who whacked Burkina Faso 5-1 to the semifinals of the U-20 Afcon. Both countries also join Nigeria and South Africa in completing the continent’s reps for the World Cup in Poland later this summer.
The U-20 Afcon semis are scheduled for Wednesday with a Nigeria-Mali and Senegal-South Africa pairings.
The grand finale also comes off Sunday, February 17.