Ghana stun Brazil in final

CAIRO: Ghana overcame Brazil 4-3 on penalties in the final of the U-20 World Cup at the Cairo International Stadium here on Friday to become the first African side to win the tournament.

Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu struck the winning spotkick in sudden death after substitute Maicon had spurned the chance to give Brazil their fifth title by placing his penalty over the crossbar. Ghana fought manfully after the controversial first-half dismissal of Daniel Addo, taking the game to extra-time and then riding their luck in the shootout after 120 goalless minutes.

Goalkeeper Daniel Aygei kept Ghana in the game earlier in extra-time with a point-blank save from Maicon, who had been teed-up 10 yards out by Alex Teixeira’s cut-back. Reported Manchester United target Douglas Costa twice went close in the additional 30 minutes, while Aygei was also called into action by Wellington Junior.

The game changed with the red card shown to Ghana centre-back Addo, who was very harshly dismissed for a halfway-line foul on livewire striker Teixeira in the 37th minute despite the presence of a covering defender. Ghana’s numerical disadvantage handed their opponents the initiative after an attritional first 45 minutes and Brazil dominated the second half.

Striker Alan Kardec scored Brazil’s winner in the 1-0 semi-final victory over Costa Rica but he was in profligate form against Sellas Tetteh’s men. He spurned four chances inside 12 second-half minutes, first diverting a cross straight at Aygei before twice heading over and also firing into the side netting after a burst down the left.

Tetteh punched the air at the end of extra-time, proud to have kept the favourites at bay despite being a man down. His joy turned to delirium when Agyemang-Badu slotted his penalty into the bottom-right corner after Maicon had fluffed his chance to give Brazil an unassailable 4-2 lead in the shootout.

Earlier, Hungary secured victory in their third-place play-off match against Costa Rica after heroics from goalkeeper Peter Kulacsi in another penalty shootout. Marcos Urena’s fine 81st-minute opener for Costa Rica was cancelled out by an injury-time penalty from Vladimir Koman and in the ensuing shootout Kulacsi saved three penalties and saw one strike the crossbar to earn the Europeans a 2-0 spotkick victory.

Blatter wants clubs to free players

CAIRO: World football chief Sepp Blatter said on Friday he regretted that many top clubs in Europe had not systematically freed their younger stars to compete in the Under-20 World Cup for their national teams.

A number of top clubs, notably from England, Germany or Italy, have used their right not to free their under-20 stars to compete in the event. However, the FIFA president said he would look into making participation an “obligation” in the future.

“At the next possible opportunity I will again ask the Executive Committee (of FIFA) to make a ruling on this issue,” Blatter said. “It should be an obligation to free players for this competition.” — AFP