GRi Sports 08-03-99

Satellites win Africa U-20 championship trophy

Fans jubilate after Satellites' victory

Nigeria ready for Under-20 Cup stars, says Blatter

Mills receives CAF president Hayatou

CAF president Hayatou leaves for home 



Satellites win Africa U-20 championship trophy

Accra (Greater Accra) 7 March 

Ghana's Black Satellites made the nation proud as they took away the Africa Under-20 Youth soccer championship title by beating Nigeria's Flying Eagles 1-0 in the final match of the eleventh edition played at the Accra Sports Stadium in Accra on Sunday.

A 39th-minute superb strike by midfielder Laryea Kingston was all that the Satellites needed to lift the trophy the second time (1993 and '99) to become champions over four-time winners, Flying Eagles, who won it in 1983, '85, '87 and '89.

President Jerry John Rawlings decorated the Satellites with the gold medals and presented the trophy to skipper Hamza Mohammed amidst wild cheers from the 50,000 crowd including Vice-president professor John Atta Mills, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and CAF president Issa Hayatou.

In addition, the Satellites received a Compact Disc each of Daddy Lumba's "Aben wo ha" album, donated by Despite Music Productions.

Nigeria had the silver medals and picked the FIFA fair-play Cup, donated by President Rawlings.

Cameroon, who had earlier beaten Zambia 2-1 in the third place play-off, received the bronze medals.

The goal-king award went to Guinea's skipper Bangoura Osumane, who scored the highest four goals.

The Satellites would be first to admit that it was a hard victory as they had to stretch every sinew to defend the lone goal, especially in the second half in which the Nigerians dominated the game for a considerable length of time.

The Flying Eagles had the better of the exchanges right from kick off while the Ghanaians played a cautious game at the midfield and defence to keep the Nigerian strikers Haruna Babangida and Pius Ikedia at bay.

Playing in a typical Italian 4-5-2 formation, the Satellites relied mostly on diminutive striker Owusu Afriyie, who thrilled the crowd with his surging runs.

The Nigerians, backed by their drum-beating supporters, singing their popular song "He's a miracle working God", nearly snatched the opener in the 16th minute but inside right Hashimu Garba's diving header from a corner kick missed the post narrowly.

Urged on by the home crowd, the Satellites caught the Flying Eagles on the break and Laryea Kingston's long pass found Johnson Eklu, who after racing into the penalty area from the left flank, gave a nice lob.

Kingston latched onto the ball, which had beaten Baffour Gyan, and planted it into the far right corner of the net for the only goal of the match, considered as the toughest in the tournament.

The goal was greeted with a thunderous applause from the fans and on the scoreboard was an inscription of highlife Star Daddy Lumba's "Aben wo ha".

Just a minute after the goal, central defender Issah Abdul Rahman was pulled out for Theophilus Amuzu to take his place.

The Nigerians made several threatening attempts at goal especially in the second half but they were, most of the time, held in check by the Ghanaian defence.

The Satellites were put under severe pressure from the 70th minute when their dependable defender Kofi Amoako went off for injury. He was replaced by Emmanuel Adjogu.

In the 81st minute Babangida gave way to Yobo Joseph and Awuley Quaye Jnr came on for Johnson Eklu in the 88th minute, but that did not help either side.

Line up (Ghana): Sammy Adjei, George Blay, hamza Mohammed, Kofi Amoako/Emmaneul Adjogu, Issa Abdul Rahman/Theophilus Amuzu, Abdul Razak, Owusu Afriyie, Laryea Kingston, Baffour Gyan, Aziz Ansah, Johnson Eklu/Awuley Quaye Jnr.

Nigeria: Sam Okoye, Ikenna Eneh, Emmanuel Izuagha, John Aranka, Haruna Babangida/ Joseph Yobo, Garba Hashimu, Aminu Sani/Moses Aduku, Musa Abubakar, Pius Ikeda, Rabiu Afolabi and Sunday Adu.

Alhaji M. N. D. Jawula, chairman of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), commenting on Ghana's 1-0 win over Nigeria in the finals of Ghana '99 said the Black Satellites' victory was a "sign of good things to come".

"With togetherness, unity and support, the country can achieve a lot just as we have all witnessed here today," the GFA boss said in an interview after the match.

He said the high standards exhibited in the tournament should be an indication that African teams would pose a threat to countries from Europe and South America, come Nigeria '99.

He said the Black satellites' squad would be beefed up with two more Ghanaian international stars for the World FIFA/Coca Cola youth championship in Nigerian next month.

The two are Stephen Appiah, who plays for Italian first division side, Udinese and Peter Ofori-Quaye, who features for Olympiakos in Greece.

The GFA boss said the services of these two players are needed to strengthen the Satellites' midfield and attack respectively in Nigeria.

Coach, Guisseppe Dossena attributed the victory to hard work on the part of his players. " The players improved match after match and I am happy we have won the Cup", he said.

He, however, admitted that there is more work to be done before the team leaves for Nigeria next month.

" Ghana is in a tough group with Croatia, Kazakhstan and Argentina, who are the current world youth champions and we therefore, have to prepare well", he said.

The Nigeria Coach, Tunde Disu said his boys played better than the Ghanaians and that it was unfortunate they lost.

He said Garba Hashimu's 58th minute equaliser that was over-ruled for offside by referee Guezzaz Mohammed of Morocco affected the morale of the Flying Eagles.

" However, I believe in destiny and therefore I believe Nigeria were not destined to win this Cup" he said.

Coach Disu said the two sides played very well, " I hope we meet again in any future competition so that we can avenge this defeat", he added.

The Flying Eagles slippery winger, Haruna Babangida, who was pulled out in the second half, expressed the hope that though they lost this Cup they could still win the world youth cup next month. He said he was not able to bring out his best in the match because he was not fully fit.

Black Satellites skipper, Hamza Mohammed had this to say " it was not easy, especially in the second half. Our victory today is by the grace of God".

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Fans jubilate after Satellites' victory

Accra (Greater Accra) 8 March 

Ghana exploded with joy and jubilation as the Black Satellites beat Flying Eagles of Nigeria 1-0 to lift the Africa Under-20 Youth soccer championship trophy in Accra last Sunday.

As soon as Referee Guezzaz Mohammed of Morocco whistled for the end of the match, soccer fans threw themselves into the streets in a wild state of jubilation.

The jubilation at the stadium started with the fans singing "Aba Mu Awie" when they saw a white dove flying over the stadium about two minutes to time The Satellites supporters, dressed in the national colours of red, yellow, and green, paraded through some of the principal streets of Accra after the match, singing "Aben Wo Ha" in honour of the boys and the coaches as commercial drivers supported them by tooting their car horns.

The Satellites' victory was described in several circles as "Independence Anniversary Cake" for the nation.

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Nigeria ready for Under-20 Cup stars, says Blatter

ABUJA (Nigeria) 8 March  

FIFA president Sepp Blatter declared on Friday Nigeria that is ready to host the Under-20 soccer World Cup next month.

The head of soccer's governing body, speaking at the draw for the 24-nation championship, said countries had been instructed by letter to send their best players.

"This World Cup for the Under-20 youth teams will be played in Nigeria, full stop," Blatter told a news conference.

"It will be played by the best teams because the best teams have qualified and therefore the best teams have to forward their best players ... the clubs have to release the players."

The tournament from April 3-24 is due to kick off in Lagos, where Nigeria take on Costa Rica in Group A. Also drawn in Group A are Germany and Paraguay.

Some Western club sides, particularly in England, have raised fears for the safety of their players if they travel to Africa's most populous nation with its repuation for crime, accidents and tropical disease.

But FIFA officials say the situation is very different to 1995 when Nigeria's hosting rights were cancelled over safety concerns at a time of political turmoil when Nigeria was shunned as a world pariah. This time around, political tensions have eased following presidential elections which will result in the end of military rule on May 29.

Nigeria's deputy leader, vice-admiral Okhai Akhigbe said the military government had done all it could to make the tournament a success. "This will convince the world that we are in line to host future international events such as the 2006 World Cup," he told a news conference.

Drawn in Group B to play in the northern industrial centre of Kaduna are Argentina, Croatia, Ghana and Kazakhstan.

Australia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ireland meet in Group C at Nigeria's second largest city of Ibadan in the southwest.

Group D features Uruguay, Mali, Korea and Portugal at the southeastern city of Enugu.

England are drawn in Group E to play in the ancient northern market city of Kano and the remote town of Bauchi, along with Cameroon, Japan and the United States.

Drawn in Group F to play in the southeastern oil industry hub of Port Harcourt and nearby Calabar are Zambia, Honduras, Spain and Brazil.

Blatter has since left for home.

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Mills receives CAF president Hayatou

Accra (Greater Accra) 8 March

Vice-President John Atta Mills on Monday congratulated the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for assisting Ghana to successfully host the 11th Africa U-20 soccer championship.

He also congratulated the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on its tireless efforts to prove that Ghana can stand up to the task and said: "we are proud of them."

Prof. Mills was speaking at the Castle, Osu, when he received CAF president Issa Hayatou.

The two men held closed-door discussions on preparations towards the African Cup of Nations' tournament for the year 2000.

CAF has said it would take the tournament from Zimbabwe and Ghana has indicated that it would host it if the federation's decision was final.

Mr Hayatou thanked the government for what it did for CAF during the period of the tournament from February 21 to Sunday, March seven.

He said the success story of Ghana '99 is a signal to the world that Ghana, and Africa in general, are capable of doing what others can do when given the chance.

Mr Hayatou said FIFA president, Mr Sepp Blatter, who was in Accra to watch the final match, left with good impressions about Africa's capabilities.

Ghana beat Nigeria 1-0 to win the gold medal in the final, watched by about 50,000 fans, including President Jerry Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu as well as Vice-President Mills.

The CAF President was accompanied to the Castle by Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Youth and Sports and Alhaji M.N.D Jawula, Chairman of the Ghana Football Association.

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CAF president Hayatou leaves for home

Accra (Greater Accra) 8 March

The President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Alhaji Issa Hayatou has expressed optimism about the development of football in Africa.

He said the level of play exhibited throughout the just ended 11th African Youth soccer championships, especially in the final match, was very encouraging and splendid.

"What we saw yesterday, shows that the game is progressing both in skills and in techniques, which is an indication that football is gaining heights on the continent", he said.

Alhaji Hayatou, who was speaking to newsmen at a pre-departure interview at the Kotoka International Airport today, acknowledged that not all member countries have attained that level.

" It is the ambition of CAF to increase the number of tournaments, improve infrastructure and organise coaching courses in order to improve the game", the CAF boss said.

He said teams like Angola and Malawi, who are now mastering the game, would benefit tremendously due to the exposure they have had at Ghana '99.

Alhaji Hayatou said he was highly impressed with the organisation of the championship in general and especially with the turn out at the Accra Sports stadium during the final match, which was electrifying.

He said it is the hope of CAF that an African country would lift the World Cup in the near future.

At the airport to see him off were, Alhaji M.N.D. Jawula, chairman of the Ghana Football Association and officials of the National Sports Council.

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