Ghana

The past
Like West African rivals Nigeria, the Black Maidens have a 100 per cent record in qualifying for the finals of the showpiece event of women's U-17 football. At the first FIFA U-17 World Cup, Ghana were knocked out in the first round with four points. They beat Costa Rica, lost to Germany and held eventual winners Korea DPR to a 1-1 draw. Two years later, Ghana stunned Brazil 1-0, but lost to Republic of Ireland and Canada, and again failed to advance beyond the first round. In Azerbaijan in 2012, Ghana became the first team from Africa to go beyond the quarter-finals after beating Japan. Although they lost to France, who went on to win the trophy, there was some consolation for the Africans as they took third place with a 1-0 victory against Germany in the play-off match.

The present
As an ever-present team at the finals, the Black Maidens were always considered as one of the favourites to advance to Costa Rica and were thus disappointed when they were overlooked for a bye into the second round. They did, however, not have to play in the first round as their opponents Congo withdrew. In the final round they faced Equatorial Guinea and two goals by Jane Ayieyam and another by Ernestina Abambilla gave them a 3-2 victory in the return leg to cement a 5-2 aggregate victory.

The future

Having finished third at the last finals in 2012, the Black Maidens are hoping to do even better this time around. Striker Jane Ayieyam, who top scored for the team with four goals in Azerbaijan, said after qualifying for Costa Rica that there is no reason why they should not win the tournament. "We want to break the record we set at the last World Cup. We won bronze, but we aim to be the first African team to win gold at the World Cup," the vice captain of the side said. Ayieyam and captain Amina Fuseini are pivotal to coach Evans Adottey's plans.