On this day 20 August 1995 (Exactly 24 years ago today) Ghana’s Black Starlets made it three in a row for Africa as they swept to a thrilling 3-2 victory against Brazil in the final of the 1995 FIFA U – 17 World Cup in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
The Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo is a wonderful backdrop against which to lift a trophy.
The iconic venue, home to Ecuadorian football club Barcelona in the city of Guayaquil, is flanked on one side by an estuary, which its rivers directly flow to the Pacific Ocean, and on the other by lush vegetation on a rising mountainside.
Young footballers in that corner of South America must dream of showing their talents on that particular stage.
In August 1995, youngsters from around the world had the opportunity to do so, as the stadium played host to a number of games at the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Cup, including the final between Ghana and Brazil.
That finale was a fitting end to a pulsating tournament.
However, it was to be the Ghanaians, who had won the inaugural U-17 tournament in 1991 (following a change from U-16 format) and the Brazilians, in their first final at this level, who reached that stunning setting to battle it out for the global U-17 crown.
The Black Starlets boasted a brilliant team, which had won every one of their five games en route to the final. They had also shared their ten goals out up to the decider, with only Abu Iddrisu and Dini Kamara scoring more than once. Brazil, who had struck 11 times on their way to the final, also had a strong team ethic, with only Rodrigo having scored more than once in Ecuador before the showdown in Guayaquil.
It proved to be an enthralling final in front of 30,000 expectant fans at the Estadio Monumental. After a terse opening period, the game exploded into life six minutes before the break.
Joseph Ansah found space on the Ghanaian right after a set piece was only half-cleared by the Brazilian defence.
Ansah’s dipping long-range drive was parried by Julio Cesar into the path of the onrushing Baba Sule, who lobbed the Brazil goalkeeper.
The game’s standout moment came just before the break. A long kick downfield by Ghana goalkeeper Michael Abu found its way to Awudu Issaka, who danced past a couple of Brazilian challenges before poking the ball towards Abu Iddrisu.
The Ghana No9, as control saw the ball bounce up on the turf invitingly and the forward needed no second invitation, with Iddrisu thumping a sensational arcing strike into the top corner beyond the despairing Julio Cesar.
The goalscorer sprinted towards the Ghana bench in elation, joined in a celebratory dance by his team-mates and members of the coaching staff ,some in traditional African dress.
Goal glut for Ghanaians
After the break, Juan reduced the deficit for the bewildered Brazilians, acrobatically volleying home after a corner kick led to a scramble in the Ghana penalty area.
However, minutes later, the Ghanaians restored their two-goal lead with a ruthless counter attack.
The Brazilians surrendered possession with a lackadaisical pass that was pounced upon by Patrick Allotey.
He burst out of defence, played a swift one-two with Iddrisu and spread the play wide to Dini Kamara, who sprinted clear down the Ghanaian right.
Kamara cut the ball back across the Brazilian penalty area, leaving the onrushing Emmanuel Bentil with a straightforward tap-in.
The game had seen four goals in just ten minutes of action either side of half time.
Despite Marco Antonio’s breakaway goal in injury time, the Black Starlets held on to reclaim the title they had surrendered two years previously to Nigeria.
The Brazilians would get their revenge at U-17 level two years later, as Ghana reached their fourth consecutive final only to fall to a 2-1 defeat to Brazil.
The majority of the Ghanaians who played in the 1995 final in Ecuador, though, had already made a step up to a more senior age group, with seven of the 11 starting finalists playing a part in the country’s run to the 1997 FIFA U-20 World Cup semi-finals.
Of the defeated finalists in Ecuador, revenge was a long time coming for Juan and Julio Cesar, who faced Stephen Appiah (an unused substitute in 1995), as the senior Brazil side saw off Ghana with ease in a 3-0 victory at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany.
Despite the Brazilians’ dominance at senior level in Germany, Appiah and Co will always have that trip to South America for posterity, when they were the African kings of Guayaquil.
Venue: Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo
Score: Ghana 3-2 Brazil
Ghana :Baba Sule (39)
Abu Iddrisu (45)
Emmanuel Bentil (49)
Brazil :Juan (47)
Marco Antonio (90)
GHANA’S 1995 FIFA U-17 CUP SQUAD
Michael Abu, Kwaku Kyere, Bashiru Gambo, Stephen Appiah, Patrick Allotey, Attakora Amaniampong, Dini Kamara, Joseph Ansah, Abu Iddrisu, Emmanuel Bentil, David Amoako, Awudu Issaka, Christian Gyan, Baba Sule, Christian Saba, Raymond Fenny, Charles Akwei, Richard Ackon.
Coach :Samuel Arday
On this day 20 August 2008 (Exactly 11 years ago today) Usain Bolt of Jamaica wrapped up the 100/200m double in style with a new 200m world record 19.30 at the Beijing Olympics.
He won by the largest margin of victory (0.66 seconds, after two disqualifications) in an Olympic 200 m final (previously, Walter Tewksbury had a 0.6 seconds margin of victory in the first Olympic 200 m final in 1900).
Controversy arose within minutes after the medal race when Wallace Spearmon, who had finished third in 19.95 seconds, was disqualified for stepping out of his lane.
United States officials filed a protest, but withdrew it after seeing the video and noticing that silver medalist Churandy Martina (19.82 seconds), who had been celebrating the second ever Olympic medal for the Netherlands Antilles, also stepped out of his lane.
They filed an appeal to disqualify Martina, which after more than an hour of deliberation was granted, and the United States obtained both the silver and bronze medals.
On March 6, 2009, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal by the National Olympic Committee of the Netherlands Antilles against Martina’s disqualification. Shawn Crawford, who had been awarded the Olympic silver medal, reportedly gave his medal to Martina on August 28, 2008 in a tremendous show of sportsmanship.
On this day 20 August 2009 (Exactly 10 years ago today) After redefining the limits of human possibility by slicing 0.11sec off his 100m world mark on 16 August 2009 , the Jamaican took exactly the same chunk of time out of his 200m record at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, taking it down to a scarcely believable 19.19sec.
His winning margin over second-placed Panamanian Alonso Edward was a massive 0.62sec, the biggest in World Championship history, and should there be any doubt that he is the greatest sprinter of all time, he now has the distinction of being the only athlete to hold Olympic and world 100m and 200m titles at the same time, never mind holding the world records as well.
“I never expected a world record tonight,” he said. “I was really tired but I told myself I just had to try to do my best. Now I am tired.”
Astonishingly, he even managed to find fault with his performance. “I was too upright,” he said. “It wasn’t a good race but it was a fast one.” You can say that again.
On this day 20 August 2004 (Exactly 15 years ago today) Ethiopian runners Kenenisa Bekele (27:05.10 OR) and Sileshi Sihine finished 1-2 in the 10,000m at the Athens Olympics.
On this day 20 August 2004 (Exactly 15 years ago today) American swimmer Michael Phelps wrapped up the 100/200m butterfly double at the Athens Olympics when he won the 100m (51.25 OR) ahead of team mate Ian Croker.
On this day 20 August 2016 (Exactly 3 years ago today) Great Britain’s Mo Farah won his fourth Olympic gold as he became only the second man to retain the 5,000m and 10,000m titles.
The then 33-year-old triumphed in the 5,000m final in Rio to extend his tally as Britain’s most successful Olympic track and field athlete of all time.
Farah won in 13 minutes 3.30 seconds .
“It shows I didn’t just fluke it in London. To do it again is incredible. I can’t believe it,” said Farah
Somalia-born Londoner Farah is now a ten-time global champion, moving him above Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele.
He matched the feat of Finland’s Lasse Viren, who completed the long-distance double at the Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Farah had already achieved the World Championships ‘double double’, successfully defending his 10,000m and 5,000m titles in Beijing the previous year
On this day 20 August 2016 (Exactly 3 years ago today) South African middle distance runner Caster Semenya retained her Olympic women’s 800m title in a time of 1:55.28 in the final in Rio de Janeiro.
BY: GEORGE ‘Alan Green’ MAHAMAH