Coach Jimmy Cobblah of the Black Satellites has described their 0-2 loss to the Young Teranga Lions of Senegal on Wednesday as a temporal setback but has assured to go all out against Mali on Saturday to book a place for the semi-final stage of the Total U-20 Africa Nations tournament in Niger.
He acknowledged that Mali is a side that would offer stiff opposition to their forward match to glory, but said the Satellites were capable of riding over them to sail into the medal zone.
Speaking to the media after their defeat to the Young Teranga Lions, Mr Cobblah said their opponents punished them for some errors in the first half, but assured that such errors would not occur in their next game against Mali.
“ We committed some errors in the first half and our opponents punished us. We made amends in the second half and created some opportunities but could not convert them.
“This is a setback, but we are sure of victory against Mali to book a place in the semi-finals and go ahead to bring a medal home” he assured
During their match on Wednesday. it was nimble-footed Senegal striker, Youssouph Badji, who became the hero for his side when he scored a brace that gave the Young Teranga Lions, a deserved 2-0 win against Ghana’s Black Satellites on Wednesday and secured them a place at the semi-finals of the ongoing Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Niger.
The tall player scored in the 10th and 45th minutes to ensure a second successive win for his side as they went on top of Group B ahead of Ghana and third-placed Mali, who defeated Burkina Faso 1-0.
While Senegal’s victory at the Stade de Maradi secured them a ticket to the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland, it left Ghana’s coach, Jimmy Cobblah and his charges with a difficult task of avoiding defeat against Mali in their third group clash on Saturday February 9 to book a place in the semi-finals as group runners-up and also a ticket to the May 23 – June 15 World Cup.
Saturday’s clash between Ghana and Mali in the Nigerien capital of Niamey is expected to be fierce as both sides have a chance to progress to the next stage of the competition.
The talented and slippery Young Lions took control of the exchanges early in the game as they piled pressure on the Satellites, forcing them to chase their shadows.
In one of their attacks in the 10th minute, Senegal’s Mamadu Lamine Danfa took possession of the ball on the flanks deep into the Ghana half, outwitted his marker, Gideon Mensah, before running deep into the vital area to pass the ball to unmarked Youssoph Badji to head home for the opening goal.
Five minutes later, the Senegalese almost doubled the lead when Ibrahim Drame connected a header, but goalkeeper Manaf Nuredeen in a post for Ghana made a double safe to keep his team in contention.
As the game wore on, the Ghanaians gradually began to dictate the pace with good possession with Basit Abdul, Rahman Umar and Daniel Lomotey combining beautifully upfront and running at the tough Senegal defence men.
It was not until the 37th minute that Lomotey, Ghana’s two-goal hero against Burkina Faso in their first group match managed to beat his markers and fired a thunderbolt which was plucked by goalkeeper Dialy Kobaly Ndiaye.
The Ghanaian attackers continued to probe for the equaliser and came close to scoring on two occasions, but wasted the chances.
Against the run of play in the 45th minute, tormentor-in-chief Badji struck another blow as he sneaked behind his marker to connect a square pass in Ghana’s goal mouth with a ground shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Nuredeen to seal victory for Senegal.
The second half saw both teams introducing fresh legs into the game, but it was Ghana who had greater possession but failed to find the target.