Ghana upset the majority of the 14,834 strong crowd tonight at Toronto’s National Soccer Stadium as they defeated the U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup host team, Canada, 1-0.
The only goal of the game came in the 22nd minute after Canadian goalkeeper, Kailen Sheridan, was unable to hold an angular shot from Ghanaian left midfielder, Edem Atovor. Sherifatu Sumaila seized the rebound from five yards out and went on to score the easiest goal of the tournament so far.
There was a genuine sense of expectation in the stadium for the home team to name themselves victors, but the Canadians were in tough against Ghana, who not long ago came third in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Much of Ghana’s U-20 team is comprised of the squad that competed in the U-17 tournament and they displayed a similar unity and stubbornness tonight as they did in their bronze medal game against Germany in Azerbaijan 2012.
The Canadian squad had a positive start and held 56% of the possession in the first half. Notable moments were a hard shot from Emma Fletcher in the 41st minute that was rejected by the left goal post, and a series of exemplary defending from Kadeisha Buchanan that helped set the tone for Canada’s physical game.
Atovor was a standout player for Ghana—she did well to counter-attack and exploit spaces left open by the Canadian backline. Ghana’s backline was nearly impenetrable in the first half but Nichelle Prince of Canada changed that when she was subbed in for Valerie Sanderson at the 60-minute mark. Her presence was felt within ten seconds of her being on the pitch as she created a goal-scoring opportunity for Ashley Campbell from a long sprint with the ball and a well-timed pass across the goal box.
In the end, Ghana held their lead despite a flurry of chances from the Canadians in the last ten minutes, including a close-range attempt from Janine Beckie in injury time that just failed to get past Ghanaian goaltender Victoria Ayei. Ayei was rightly named Live Your Goals Player of the Game.
Both teams will play again in Toronto on Friday, August 8. Ghana is set to play Korea DPR and Canada will face Finland.
GHA – Sherifatu Sumaila – 22′
CAN – Ashley Lawrence (caution, 55′)
GHA: 16-Victoria Ayei, 2-Rebecca Asante, 3-Grace Adams (captain), 4-Cynthia Yiadom, 7-Sherifatu Sumaila, 8 -Wasila Diwura-Soale, 13-Jennifer Cudjoe (18-Rasheda Abdul-Rahman, 70′), 14-Priscilla Okyere (10-Alice Kusi, 78′), 15-Faustina Ampah, 17-Edem Atovor
Subs not used: 1-Beatrice Nketia, 21-Rose Baah, 5-Veronica Appiah, 6-Ellen Coleman, 9-Alice Danso, 11- Alberta Asante, 12-Christiana Boateng
Head Coach: Bashir Hayford
CAN: 1-Kailen Sheridan, 2-Sura Yekka, 3-Kinley McNicoll (captain), 4-Kylie Davis (12-Victoria Pickett, 86′), 5-Kadeisha Buchanan, 6-Rebecca Quinn, 8-Jessie Fleming, 10-Ashley Lawrence, 11-Janine Beckie, 19-Valerie Sanderson (9-Nichelle Prince, 60′), 20-Emma Fletcher (7-Ashley Campbell, 52′),
Subs Not Used: 18-Marie-Joelle Vandal, 21-Rylee Foster, 13-Lyndsay Agnew, 14-Vanessa Gregoire, 15-Jordane Carvery, 16-Sarah Kinzner, 17-Amandine Pierre-Louis
Head Coach: Andrew Olivieri (CAN)