Ecuador 1995: Ghana keep crown in Africa
By 1995 and the end of this FIFA U-17 World Championship, Ghana's unequalled record of three Final appearances and two wins had made them the team to beat in this age group. Samuel H. Arday's side had the physical and technical edge over all the other sides in Ecuador. Six straight wins tell their own story as even the mighty Brazil proved helpless in the face of the Black Starlets' superior style. The Africans interchanged a 4-4-2, 5-3-2 and 3-4-3 formation at will, and with captain Emmanuel Bentil directing traffic in midfield, they had a leader who made sure they never let up. Ghana rolled over Japan, Ecuador, the United States, Portugal, Oman and Brazil, before taking to the victory podium for a well-earned victory dance.
Ecuador '95 is also remembered for the introduction of two new rules: the Golden Goal - which was not needed - and the use of time-outs, which were used by all teams except Ghana and Guinea.
With Brazil and Argentina making the semi-finals, South America could look back on the competition with some satisfaction - even if they were to lose out again to an African nation in Ghana. Oman shocked everyone by finishing fourth in their very first FIFA final tournament. Cleverly coached by the wily George Smith, the team from the Gulf were a joy to behold, and in Mohamed Kathiri they had the tournament's best player. They only lost twice - to Argentina and future champions Ghana - and might have done even better had they not lost seven players to injury in the group phase.
Player of the Tournament:
An Asian player was named Player of a FIFA Tournament for the first time ever. Mohamed Kathiri deservedly picked up the adidas Golden Ball for his magnificent performances that helped carry little-fancied Oman all the way to the semi-finals. Wearing the number 5 shirt did not stop Kathiri from scoring five goals, including two from the penalty spot - and two directly from corners! He looked comfortable all over the park, and was gifted with the vision that only the great players have. Blessed with two great feet, he was unlucky to see two shots come off the bar in the semi-final against Ghana, which meant he "only" finished as joint top-scorer.
Esteban Cambiasso (ARG), Pablo Aimar (ARG), César La Paglia (ARG), Julio César (BRA), Cléber (BRA), Emmanuel Bentil (GHA), Iddrisu Abu (GHA), Shinji Ono (JPN), Junichi Inamoto (JPN), Naohiro Takahara (JPN), Mohamed Kathiri (OMN), Nuno Gomez (POR).
Ecuador 1995 stats:
Final standings :
84 (2.63 per match)
Brazil and Ghana, 13 goals
Top 3 goalscorers:
- Daniel Allsop (AUS), 5 goals
- Mohamed Kathiri (OMN), 5 goals
- Fernando Gatti (ARG), 4 goals
Quito, Cuenca, Riobamba, Ibarra, Porto Viejo and Guayaquil