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Observations from Laryea Kingston’s Black Starlets victory in Wafu Zone B U-17 opener

The Black Starlets of Ghana delivered a resounding 5-1 victory against Cote d’Ivoire in the 2024 Wafu B U-17 Cup of Nations to kick-off their dreams of qualifying to the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.

At the University of Ghana Sports Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, the national U17 promised and produced delight after over four months of camping and engaging in loads of friendly games.

Joseph Narbi began the rout in the 27th minute with the opener and extended the lead to 2-0 with his second in the 42nd minute.

Ghana continued their dominance in the encounter by bagging the third in the 48th minute via Godfred Sarpong but the Ivorians got a goal back two minutes later.

The resilient Black Starlets proved their mettle again by scoring the fourth in the 53th minute with Herve Gbafa’s effort.

Then in additional time, Mark Kagawa Mensah netted the fifth goal of the afternoon for the Black Starlets.

Head coach Laryea Kingston expressed delight in the win against their West African neighbours.

“We got our plan right and the boys delivered the victory. There’s much more to do and we will work to achieve that in our subsequent games.

“For now, we can enjoy and focus on our next game.”

After watching the Starlets exhibit talent and attacking quality, I picked these three key observations from the game.


Bra Laryea’s football and the “Agoro” football DNA.

The Black Starlets have been a machine of goals in their recent games before the Wafu Zone B U17 game on Wednesday.

At the invitational Uefa four-nation tournament in Russia, the lads delivered 5-1 victories against Serbia and Kazakhstan after losing 3-1 to the hosts.

And in the triumph against Cote d’Ivoire, the Starlets showed calmness and attacking play that has been the major characteristic of Laryea Kingston since taking over as the head coach of the team.

Furthermore, the Ghana Football Association’s planned national football identity(DNA) was depicted in the win with the Starlets looking more attacking-minded and showcasing quality passing in the opponent’s half.

On the other hand, the quality of play might have been aided by the level of the Ivorians and moving forward, a high level of consistency in the style of play will be expected from the team.

But for now, give Laryea Kingston the credit for the style of play (not the result, its nothing for now).

Lots of work in defensive play and awareness

Ghana’s 5-1 thrashing of the Ivorians might sound like total dominance for the 90 minutes of game time.

But No! The Starlets could have had it at 1-1 before Narbi’s second goal in the 42nd minute.

It was telling in the game and Laryea will need to improve the defence, notably in the buildup play where Ghana lost balls in dangerous positions.

Furthermore, the team suffered with their positioning in counter-attacking situations.

An extremely shaky back line but in all this assessment, it’s somehow unfair to ignore the fact that this is an U17 team and the U17 World Cup tournaments have always shown inexperience in the goals conceded by the best of teams.

It’s evident that the lads need grooming in defence and Laryea has to find an antidote before the Starlets face clinical attacking teams.

Ghana has talent and development should be a NEVER-ENDING activity

I worked as the match commentator for the Ghana Football Association’s KGL U-17 Inter-Regional Boys Competition in Kumasi last year which Ashanti Region won.

In Laryea’s squad selection process for the Wafu tournament, lots of players were invited and some lads from the tournament were called, notably David Kwame Koranteng who won the best player at the KGL tourney.

Koranteng failed to make the final list for the competition but in all honesty, the selected lads by Laryea Kingston have also proved their worth.

There are others; Bright Okutu, Solomon Kwaku Sah, Agyapong Bilson, Kofi Atiburo among others would all yearn to get a call up but the coaches know best.

The quality of players in the Black Starlets slightly shifts my attention from the game played against Cote d’Ivoire just to write and keep this in my heart.

Ghana has talent and talent development should be a never-ending activity.”

Back to the game again!

What’s left? Consistency in talent development will further produce great players for our national teams and thumbs up to Laryea Kingston for the squad.


The Black Starlets will need to stick to Laryea’s game plan, improve their defensive frailties and show consistency in their play so as the system’s talent development can be trusted by Ghanaian parents and guardians.

We need that! A strong football economy is a strong cash-cow for all families.

Ghana’s last group game is against Benin on Tuesday, May 21.

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