FEATURE: Can Ghana U-20s avoid the pitfalls of the past?

Published on: 18 March 2021

Ghana were victorious in the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations earlier this month, defeating Uganda in the final to win their fourth title.

Their latest success comes on the back of previous triumphs in 1993, 1999 and 2009, while they were also defeated finalists in 2001 and 2013.

However, that success at youth level is yet to translate to senior level—Ghana haven’t won the Nations Cup since 1982—while some of the stars of those successes haven’t build careers at the top of the sport.

Michael Essien, the standout performer at the 2001 tournament, was one gleaming exception, as he transitioned from that run to the final to enjoy great success in Europe, notably with Chelsea.

However, the likes of Ransford Osei, Yaw Yeboah and Francis Narh were unable to become superstars despite impressing at youth level.

Narh, for example, won the Fair Player of the Tournament prize in 2013, but was last seen in Belarusian football with Slavia Mozyr, while his teammate Lawrence Lartey never made it out of Africa, signing for Ethiopians Hawassa Kenema in 2017.

What about Osei, both the Player of the Tournament and the top scorer in 2009?

He moved to FC Twente on the back of that magnificent campaign, having previously signed for Maccabi Haifa, however, by 2012 he was back in Africa with Bloemfontein Celtic, and subsequently returned to his homeland with Asante Kotoko.

The hitman, now 30, returned to Europe with Finnish side RoPS in 2016, but reportedly hung up his boots in 2018 after featuring for Lithuanian side FC Palanga.

In truth, Osei never came close to realising his immense potential, but will his successors in the current U-20 Ghana side avoid the pitfalls that stymied his progress?

It’s one of the hot topics addressed in this week’s African Football HQ episode, as Malek Shafei welcomes Prince Narkortu Teye onto the podcast to discuss the Black Satellites’ achievement in Mauritania.

How did he rate the team’s performance as the clinched the title at the U-20 Afcon, and what are the prospects for the likes of Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, Daniel Afriyie Barnieh, Percious Boah and Ibrahim Danlad as they look to enjoy long and successful careers in the sport?

Source: goal.com