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U-17 World Cup: India go down 0-4 against Ghana, bow out of tournament in group stage

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New Delhi, Oct 13: India’s run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 came to an end on Thursday as they went down 0-4 against Ghana, who took matters into their hand towards the end, scoring two goals in quick succession.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 12: Players of India react after the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 group A match between Ghana and India at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on October 12, 2017 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The Indians played their hearts out in the final Group A game but that was not enough as formidable Ghana outplayed them in all departments.

Ghana skipper Eric Ayiah (43rd, 52nd minutes) struck a brace, bulging the net on either side of the break before Richard Danso (86th) and Emmanuel Toku (87th) scored in quick succession towards the end.

Ghana finished the group stage with six points from three matches. They took the top spot in the group due to a superior goal difference ahead of the US and Colombia who also finished with six points each.

India ended their maiden appearance at a football World Cup in any age group without opening their account and only one goal to show for their efforts.

Ghana dominated right from the start but were held at bay by some tough, stubborn defending by the Indians.

The home team however, ran out of ideas in the final third, showing a distinct lack of composure when in possession and committed a lot of missed passes and errors as a result, losing the ball easily.

Lack of combination and poor awareness upfront repeatedly saw Indian players in possession but with no team mates in good positions to pass to.

Their job was made even tougher by a well-organised Ghana defence which allowed them very little time and space, while showcasing excellent skills, tactical awareness and athletic ability.

Ghana right winger Sadiq Ibrahim was a constant threat down the flanks with his speed and accurate balls into the Indian penalty box.

Rashid Alhassan was also excellent on the left wing and Ayiah in the centre had a constant stream of excellent passes and crosses as he used his superb technique and dribbling skills to trouble the Indian defence.

Only some desperate defending by the hosts prevented them from conceding more goals.

Central defenders Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh put in a tireless performance for India.

To their credit, the Indians tried really hard to impose a threat on the rival citadel despite the clear difference in class and quality.

They repeatedly tried to attack down the flanks in their effort to push back the Ghana defence.

Ayiah found the net for Ghana in the sixth minute but his effort was ruled offside.

Indian defender Boris Thangjam was brought down early in the 14th minute, to allow Sanjeev Stallin take a hit on the goal through free-kick. But Stallin failed to make the most of the early opportunity.

Ghana wingers Ibrahim and Alhassan created good chances from their long-range effort but India goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem stood tall to keep the ball away on every occasion.

Unable to penetrate through the Indian defence, Issac Gyamfi took a long-range effort in the 28th minute only to see the ball sail over the cross-bar.

Ghana looked to play more through their flanks, but the Indian goalkeeper stood firm in between disallowing the opponents any opportunity.

The constant pressure by Ghana finally took its toll towards the end of the first half as Ayiah broke the deadlock, making a superb run from his own half before scoring off the rebound when Indian goalkeeper blocked a pass from Ibrahim.

The second-half started with India defending deep with no one in attack. Their lone striker Aniket Jadhav was left with no support upfront.

Ghana scored their second goal after a sublime move.

An excellent run saw Ayiah in acres of time and space at the edge of the hosts’ penalty box as he met a pinpoint pass from Edmund Arko-Mensah with a superb finish.

Ghana looked to add on their lead trying to hit shots from long range and constantly getting past through the Indian defence which failed to look up to the mark.

Substitute Rahim Ali tried to use the ball on the flanks positively to impose threat on the opposition. He even succeeded up to an extent to pass the ball to Jadhav but the lone striker failed to do the most of it.

Rahul Kannoly displayed his skills in the 81st minute to create space for himself but his long-range effort ended up in the safe arms of Ghana goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.

The hosts virtually gifted away the third goal when Anwar easily lost the ball to Danso who made a speedy run before finishing past Moirangthem.

Toku scored another soft goal a minute later as the Indians had a disappointing end to their World Cup campaign.

WeForNews Bureau

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Coach Ravi Shastri reveals why Dhoni took the ball from umpire

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New Delhi, July 19: Team India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday dismissed all speculation on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement.

Shastri’s comments came after social media on Wednesday was abuzz with speculation that the 2011 World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni will soon retire from all formats of the game.

Dhoni was seen taking the match ball from the umpires at the end of the third one-day international against England at the Headingley cricket ground in Leeds on Tuesday, and Twitter went on overdrive as fans began to wonder about the significance of the move.

“Is Dhoni retiring?” was the talking point as all and sundry began to wonder about the significance of the former India skipper walking away with the match ball despite India having lost the match. Dhoni asked for back towards the pavilion.

Thus coach put a full stop on all the speculation and said,” “That’s rubbish. MS is not going anywhere”.

Shastri said Dhoni took the ball from umpire to show it to bowling coach Bharat Arun.

Dismissing the speculation, Shastri said: “MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like.”

“But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled,” Shastri told Times of India.

Dhoni had come under fire following his 59-ball 37-run knock in the second ODI of the series at Lord’s. In fact, the crowd at the iconic venue booed Dhoni in the same game where he completed 10,000 ODI runs.

Following that game, Kohli had come out in Dhoni’s support, saying, “When he does well, people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well, they all pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him.”

“Also, you want to take the innings deep; you don’t want to just lose by 160-170 runs, and he has the experience, but some days it just doesn’t come off. Other people jump to conclusions, but we don’t — we totally believe in him,” Kohli had said.

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Pant gets maiden call; Shami back for first 3 England Tests

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New Delhi, July 18: Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday picked as the second choice stumper as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recalled pacer Mohammed Shami in the 18-member squad for the first three Tests of the five-match rubber against England.

Pant was rewarded with the Test call-up following a successful run with the willow in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shami, who was dropped from the lone Test match against Afghanistan for failing a fitness test, made his way back to the team after clearing the mandatory yo-yo test. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair has also been re-called to the squad while Rohit Sharma failed to make it.

Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is recuperating from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad, but will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness, a BCCI statement confirmed.

Meanwhile, fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has his back injury after featuring in the third One-day International (ODI) against England on Tuesday and was left out of the first three Tests.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the third ODI against England. His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” the board said.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wins gold at Sotteville Athletics Meet

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New Delhi, July 18: India’s star javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the Sotteville Athletics Meet in France on Tuesday.

Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.

Neeraj is India’s top javelin thrower and he proved his mettle once again on the international stage when he won the gold medal with a massive margin.

While Neeraj Chopra threw a distance of 85.17 m, the second best was Adrian Mardare of Moldova who threw a distance of 81.48 m.

The bronze medal went to Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius, whose best throw of the night was 79.31m.

The winning distance from Chopra was, however, less than what he achieved to win a historic Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold in Australia earlier this year. He had improved on his season’s best with an effort of 86.47m in Gold Coast to become the country’s first javelin-thrower to win a CWG gold.

Last week, he finished fifth at the Rabat Diamond League with a best throw of 83.32m.

So, the victory at the Sotteville Athletics Meet augurs well for his Asian Games preparation which will be held next month in Indonesia.

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