The first group of the FIFA U-17 World Cup was always going to grab a lot of eyeballs. Because when you have the host nation with three powerful teams, it just cannot be ignored.
The final results had three teams neck-to-neck for progressing, though, there were no surprises. India, the hosts, crashed out of the tournament, while USA, Columbia and Ghana all finished with six points.
Five of six games were played in New Delhi, with the last one being played in Navi Mumbai.
Ghana topped the group having the superior goal difference, while Columbia, despite having the same goal difference as USA, finished second for having a better head-to-head record. USA are most likely to go through to the next round as one of four best third-placed teams in the group stages.
Ghana beat Columbia in the first match of the group, as Sadiq Ibrahim scored the only goal of the game. On the same day, India played their first ever FIFA competition match when they faced USA.
USA defeated the host nation by a 3-0 scoreline, with Joshua Sargent, Chris Durkin and Andrew Carleton getting on the scoresheet against the bamboozled Indians.
On the second matchday, the winners of the first two games, USA and Ghana met in the first game of the day. The Americans edged out the Ghanaians 1-0 when substitute Ayo Akinola scored in the 75th minute.
The Indian team, which was outclassed in their first match, put on a good show against Columbia despite the loss. Columbia won 2-1. Juan Penaloza scored a brace for the Columbians, but more importantly India scored their first FIFA competition goal through Jeakson Thounaojam.
Going into the final game, USA were firmly atop the group, but Ghana and Columbia had other plans. The South Americans beat USA 3-1 at the D.Y. Patil stadium in Mumbai. Penaloza was on target once more, with Juan Vidal and Deiber Caicedo chipping in with the other two. George Acosta scored for USA, but Columbia proved to be too hot to handle.
India’s final game was a heavy defeat to the African side. Though the Blue Colts gave a strong fight, defensive lapses cost the team in a 4-0 defeat. Eric Aiyah scored a brace on either side of the half before Richard Danso and Emmanuel Toku added to the misery in the span of 60 seconds towards the end of the game.
Penaloza finished as the group’s top scorer with his three goals, while India’s Dheeraj Moirangthem made the most saves (16), which is also the tournament’s second highest so far.
Toppers Ghana will play their round of 16 game in Mumbai on October 18, and the opponent is yet to be decided. Columbia will stay in Delhi to play the runner-up of Group C on October 16. USA’s next match will depend on the results of the other groups.