After a year of steady progress, Ghana departed China 2007 with three defeats in three games. Despite that bitterly disappointing return, the Africans gained some useful experience that ought to stand them in good stead for the future.

One man determined to keep his spirits up is the Black Queens' coach Isaac Paha. "No matter how hard you try in football, you will always make mistakes," he said. "Yes, we lost our three matches but that's part of the game and we shouldn't be downhearted about it. What we need to do now is build on the foundations we've laid here."

With an average age of a little of over 25, the Ghanaians fully expected to struggle against their far more experienced opponents in Group C: Norway, Canada and Australia. Although several of the older squad members had travelled to previous FIFA Women's World Cup finals, some of them had never actually played in the tournament before. Not that teenage hopefuls such as Doreen Awuah and Anita Amankwa can use the same excuse now, both of them enjoying valuable time out on the pitch in China.

"In the first game we realised straight away that things were not going to go as we expected," added Paha. "When you are faced with a situation like that, the important thing is to focus on the future and to blood young players. They are the future of the team, the ones who will perhaps return to the World Cup one day, and my aim was to give them some experience at this level. When the next World Cup comes around in four years' time they will know what it is all about."

A former Ghana international and national coach at various age levels, Paha is optimistic about what the future holds for the women's team. "We are aware of work we have to do but at least we now know the areas in which we need to do better. That's football. Even though we have put in some good performances, there are always things you can improve on."

One of the positive aspects of Ghana's play was their ability to move the ball around and generate goalscoring opportunities. But as Paha knows, to compete at this level they need to find a way of converting those chances. The plans are certainly in place; all the Black Queens need to do now is to put them into practice.