Today in History: Ghana win first-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup
On August 31, 1991, which is exactly 29 years today, the Black Starlets made Ghana proud as they defeated Spain to win their first-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy. The scorer of the all-important goal was Emmanuel Duah in the 77th minute.
Ghana enroute to reaching the final placed second in group D after finishing with 5 points, just as the group leaders Spain, but with inferior goal difference.
Otto Pfister charges progressed by beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarters, before edging out Qater on penalties after a goalless draw in the semis to set a date with Spain in the final.
It was expected to generate a lot of thrills because their group stage tie failed to produce a winner.
Ghana who had studied the Europeans played a great game and piped them to win their first FIFA U-17 World Cup. It was richly deserved triumph.
Able to call on just the right blend of individual talent and team spirit, the Ghanaians were never afraid to take the initiative and were ultimately rewarded for their enterprising approach. Expertly coached by master German tactician Otto Pfister, their made-to-measure 1-3-4-2 formation invariably had opponents on the back foot from the first whistle. If the team had a weak spot it was in attack, where they sometimes had trouble converting all their chances, but this could be explained by the fact that they had the youngest squad of all the sides in the competition, with an average age of just 16 years and 1 month. Top of the class for Ghana’s youngsters were Kofi Mbeah, Mohammed Gargo, sweeper Isaac Asare, and ace marksman Nii Odartey Lamptey, who scored four goals.
The adidas Golden Ball could only go to one of the members of the victorious Ghanaian side, and so it was, with Nii Odartey Lamptey taking home a very special souvenir from his Italian sojourn. Lamptey was the beating heart of a very good side. His fast feet, speed of thought, and clever interplay with captain Nana Alexander Opoku and fellow midfielders Mohammed Gargo and Emmanuel Duah were on display for all to see. His willingness to get into the box was critical too, and his four goals made him joint top -goalscorer.
Reward and honours
The players were honoured by the state. A street around the Accra Sports Stadium was named after them ‘Starlets 91 Street.
Treasury bill was bought for each of the players.
The Sports Writers Association (SWAG), which is the premier sports awards in the country for the first time named a group as the Sports Personality of the Year and it went to the Black Starlets team of 1991.
The Players who made Ghana proud in Italy
Coach: Otto Pfister