Two-time champions Ghana outplayed Niger 2-0 to enter the quarterfinals of the FIFA U17 World Cup here today. Goals by captain Eric Ayiah off a penalty in the injury time in the first half and substitute Richard Danso in the 90th minute helped Ghana win the rough and tough Round of 16 game. Ghana will now take on African champions Mali in a repeat of their continental qualifying event final in the quarterfinals on October 21 in Guwahati.Debutants Niger, who lost to Ghana 6-5 on penalties in the African U-17 tournament in May, had to spend much of the time defending their goal against the fleet-footed Ghana trio of Ayiah, Edmund Arko-Mensah and Emmanuel Toko. For Niger, goalkeeper Khaled Lawali stood out as he made several saves, thanks to his agility and anticipation.

It was largely because of the excellent goal-keeping and robust defending by the back four that the Ghana forwards failed to break the deadlock until the injury time in the first half. In the dying moments of the first half, Ayiah threw off his shadow after chasing a through ball into the penalty area, where he was tripped by his marker, resulting in a spot-kick. The Ghana skipper converted the opportunity to go into the breather leading 1-0.In the second half, barring a brief spell soon after the resumption of play, Niger were again kept busy defending. The entire Ghana team, barring goalkeeper Danad Ibrahim, was all over the Niger half on quite a few occasions in search of another goal. They didn’t let the tempo fall even when they lost their defender Bismark Owusu because of an injury.

For Niger, goalkeeper Lawali continued to thwart several attempts to keep his side in the hunt. Ayiah missed a golden chance to score his second goal of the match and fourth of the competition when Lawali blocked his spot-kick. The penalty was awarded when Toku, the other impressive Ghana player, was brought down by Niger’s Farouk Idrissa.Ghana, however, were not to be denied their second goal. Just before the end of play, Danso fired a long-range shot that went past the stretched palms of a leaping Lawali into the net. — PTI

Coaches’ CornerWhen Africans play each other, we know each other so well and therefore it’s very difficult. Even though we could have so many goals, it would have been difficult, till the penalty came in. So it will be a cagey encounter and we are prepared for it — Samuel Fabin, Ghana CoachWe are satisfied, we have gained a lot of experience. For us it is a historic qualification, we went through the first round to reach the Round of 16. And already we are ranked 15 among the 24 teams playing in the World Cup — Ismaila Tiemoko, Niger Coach

Brazil 3-0 Honduras

  • Brazil: Brenner  (11, 56th minute)
  • Antonio (44th min)

Ghana 2-0 niger

Ghana: Ayiah (45+4 Pen)

Danso (90th min)

Quarterfinal line-up

  • Mali vs Ghana (Oct, 21)
  • US vs England (Oct, 21)
  • Spain vs Iran (Oct, 22)
  • Germany vs Brazil (Oct, 22)