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04.05.2005 Football News

U-17 side in turmoil

By bbc

The coach of Ghana's Under-17 side has accused the country's football authorities of abandoning the team, ahead of the African championships in the Gambia.

Opening games in the tournament begin in Banjul on Saturday.

Duncan claims his salary has gone unpaid for eight months and his players are owed nearly four months allowances.

Two-time winners of the World Championship, Ghana is making its return to the African competition after failing to qualify for the last two editions.

"What is happening is heartless," Duncan fumed to BBC Sport as he departed for Gambia with his squad of 18 players on Tuesday.

"The technical staff and the players have been unpaid for so long, yet we are expected to do well [at the African championship].

"I hope no one will accuse these players of being unpatriotic if they find the national team unattractive.

"You can't get players to be patriotic with this kind of attitude," the coach said.

But Duncan said his players were determined to prove a point at the continental event, after a three-week training tour of Egypt.

"The players understand what is at stake and the importance of this tournament to their careers.

"I have been with them for a long time and know more than anyone else how ambitious they are."

Ghana have been paired against host Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso in Group A.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has also named its own 18-man squad for the event.

Coach Godwin Izilien said Nigeria, also two time-winners of the World Championship, are determined to reclaim their pride of place at youth level.

The Golden Eaglets, as the Nigerian team is known, are in Group B of the eight-team championship, alongside South Africa, the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe.

The Eaglets had a disappointing outing at February's Meridian Cup in Turkey but Izilien is optimistic his team will qualify for the world championships in Peru.

The tournament in the Gambia ends on 22 May.

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