Starlets gaze at Togo from up North

16 years ago

The tricky challenge of winning a second successive championship as a coach and third African U-17 title for country simultaneously can be a hard task to live up to.

However, Fred Osam Duodu is bent on achieving this feat when the African U-17 Championship to be hosted by Togo kicks off in March.

The veteran coach on Thursday left the Ghanaian capital for Egypt with some twenty-five players of the Black Starlets squad to begin preparations for the continental event.

Three other players, Daniel Opare and Sadick Adams both of AshantiGold together Kelvin Owusu Bossman of Reading FC would join the rest of the squad in Egypt.

With two titles already won by previous generations, the present Black Starlets are eager up to improve on the silver medal won by the 2005 squad who lost to tournament host, Gambia.

And incidentally, it was the first African U-17 title won by Fred Osam Duodu at Ghana’s expense when he led the Gambians to their first major continental success in football.

Now, he makes a return again to the same competition he last won but this time in a different capacity, as coach of Ghana.

Before the team’s departure, he sounded confident though he wasn’t too enthused over the timing of the tournament, which has been brought forward two months earlier this time.

The Confederation of African Football – CAF, has scheduled the competition for March this year instead of the May date it used to be played.

“You know, the change of the dates by the organisers has made preparations rather difficult. It’s been brought forward two earlier than expected.

“And this tells you the work load we (technical team) have to deal with. We would have to get one team ready before the competition kicks off,” Osam Duodu said.

The choice of Egypt according to the coach is also a good location for his team.

Ghana in the past has made use of Egyptian facilities in preparing for tournaments and Osam Duodu says, the North African country has some good facilities that would make work much easier.

“We had to leave Prampram (national camp) and really focus ahead of the competition. The numbers were increasing in Prampram.

"The women’s team, the Black Queens are also there and this sometimes affects our preparations when it comes to the use of facilities.

“But in Egypt, we would have a different environment where we can also play trial games with the junior teams of some Egyptian sides. This would help us step up preparations.

“We have a limited time but we are sure to make it.”

Ghana, handed the top seeds tag are drawn in Group B with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Eritrea.

Ghana would open her Group B account with a game against second seed, Burkina Faso on March 11 in the city of Kegue.

Three days after the group opener, Ghana lines up against Eritrea on March 14.

And the Black Starlets would save the best for the last when the clash with their Nigerian rivals on March 17 in the final Group B game.

Togo, host of the Championship would kick off the competition with a game against South Africa on March 10 in Group A to be played in Kegue.

The group also has Gabon and Tunisia.

The final of the two-week championship will kick off on March 24.

Thirty-eight players were initially called to camp but that number has been pruned to twenty-eight.

Players who made the Ghana squad for the Egypt training tour are:

Abraham Hoenyedzi, David Dadzie, Philip Boampong, Stephen Owusu Ansah, Eric Opoku, Pero Gwalla, Moses Otiboe, Amiru Mohammed, Abdul Naza Alhassan, Ebo Andoh, Benjamin Owusu, Alhassan Meisuna, Agbesi Dotse.

Others are:

Emmanuel Burkason, Appiah Dzifa, Enoch Adu Kofi, Ransford Osei, Nathaniel Asamoah, Abeiku Quansah.

The rest are:

Nana Yaw Sarfo, Ishmael Yartey, Francis Nanabayin, Ibrahim Dossey, Paul Addo, Abdul Aziz Yusif.