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FIFA Under-17 World Cup

Ghana starlets can succeed despite U-17 failure - Fabian

Ghana U-17 coach Paa Kwesi Fabian is confident that graduates of the squad who reached the final eight of the U-17 World Cup can enjoy long and successful careers despite missing out on the title in India.

The Black Starlets are back in Accra after losing to Mali at the quarter finals of the ongoing U-17 World Cup, and while Fabian is hurt by their failure to add to Ghana's two world titles in that age division he's optimistic that, with the right mentoring, members of the squad will realise their potential.

"We need to guide them to the next level and monitor them very well," Fabian told KweséESPN. "Since 2013 when I took over the Starlets team, I can count about 20 to 25 players who have progressed from there to good careers in Europe.

"If we do it well it will go a long way in helping us," he added.

Ghana reached the final of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon earlier this year, before being defeated 1-0 by Mali in the Libreville final in late May.

They topped their U-17 World Cup group, taking six points from games against Colombia, the United States and India, before downing Niger in the Round of 16, only to fall to Les Aigles in a 2-1 defeat in Guwahati.

"Many members of the 2013 starlets are now playing for the Black Stars," Fabian continued. "Thomas Agyepong, Yaw Yeboah, Nicholas Opoku and Lawrence Ati Zigi have all gone on to [represent Ghana].

"If we get them in the right places, the right teams and keep an eye on them, the future of the team is very bright."

The coach tipped left-back Rashid Alhassan and centre-back Razak Abdoulaye in particular as two players who can go on to enjoy careers at the top level if they make the right decisions and develop in an environment conducive to their progress.

"Many of the players don't get far because they go to clubs who don't need them, where there is too much competition and so they never really play and develop," the coach added. "I hope they avoid those mistakes.

Fabian is also adamant that the Ghana Football Association pays more attention to youth teams, complaining that their preparations for the tournament in India were affected by inadequate accommodation or pitches. He has urged the GFA to take a leaf out of the book of one of the U-17 World Cup finalists - England - to ensure that the nation's young stars get the backing their talent deserves.

"A lot of countries are investing in their youth teams," Fabian concluded. "England realized their players were not getting the chance to play in their leagues and they have invested heavily in their youth teams. Now the result is clear.

"There is a lot of talent here, but like all the top coaches say, talent without effort is quite meaningless. "If we are able to put in a lot, I believe Ghana can rise to the top."


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