(FROM: William Ezah, Banjul, Gambia, courtesy SLOK AIR)
Banjul, Gambia, May 15, GNA - Coach David Duncan, Technical Director of the national under-17, team, the Black Starlets, has suspected a foul play by Group B runner up Cote D'Ivoire, alleging that the Ivorians intentionally lost their final group match to South Africa to avoid clashing with host, The Gambia, in the semi-finals.
The Ivorians, prior to the final group match were leading the pack on six points, two more than South Africa, but allegedly lost the match to avoid playing group A runner up, The Gambai who are always propelled by a massive home support.
Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire lock horns in the first of two semi-final matches on Tuesday at the ongoing Sixth African Under-17 soccer championship at the Independence Stadium.
The outspoken Ghanaian coach told the GNA Sports after Sunday afternoon's training session that, "having witnessed the game at the Serakunde West Mini Stadium last Saturday, I am of the conviction that, the West Africans could have won the game but failed to attach the needed seriousness to it because they prefer meeting Ghana to The Gambia in the semis."
"I'm not taking anything away from the South Africans but based on what I saw last Saturday, I believe the Ivorians played better and could have gone through the group on a clean sheet but just decided to face Ghana in the semi-finals by giving the game out," he said. Coach Duncan concedes though that the Ivorians avoided The Gambian because of their huge following, "you must always beat the best no matter the circumstances if you want to be the best."
"I don't know why they decided to face us, but I think they have made a wrong choice because we are going to prove them wrong by defeating them on Tuesday," Coach Duncan declared. He said, his boys were ever ready for any opponent and they have vowed to go for the ultimate.
On the absence of some key players in the game as a result of suspensions, Coach Duncan said the selection of players for matches have been rotational since the commencement of the tournament therefore, he would not have any problem getting substitutes.
The Starlets would play without defender Jonathan Quartey and striker George Appiah, both have picked two yellow cards each.