Ayiah: Ghana can go all the way

  • The scorer of two goals at India 2017, Ayiah is out for more

  • “We won our group and now we’re looking to go as far as we can”

  • “The No6 jersey is a lucky one for me, and I’m going to keep it”

In giving an exclusive interview to FIFA.com, Ghana captain Eric Ayiah revealed that he and his team-mates have every intention of conquering the world come Saturday 28 October - the date of the final at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

“We’ve got more than one objective here,” said the Black Starlets skipper. “We’ve achieved the first and now we’re going after the rest. We need to make it to the final and try and win the title.”

Lucky number While '9' and '10' are usually the numbers of choice for free-scoring forwards, Ayiah opted for the No6 jersey for one very good reason: “It comes as a surprise to everyone, but I like the number because it’s a reminder of two dates that are important to me: my birthday (6 March 2000) and my country’s independence day (which also happens to be 6 March). I’ve loved the number since I was a child and I’ve never worn any other. I’ve kept it wherever I’ve played.”

Ayiah scored two of his side’s four goals in the victory over hosts India in the group phase, a result that helped them top Group A ahead of Colombia and USA. “We set ourselves a few objectives after we qualified, the first of which was to finish first in our section. We’re going to be focused and calm as we go about achieving the rest of our goals. We have what it takes to do what we came here to do.”

Ayiah excelled at this year’s CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, helping himself to four goals to finish the competition as the second highest scorer. “As a forward, it’s my job to score goals,” he said. “And I’m happy when I do it, especially if my team wins and makes progress in the competition.”

Familiar foes Next up for Ghana are Niger, a team they crossed swords with in the semi-finals of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations. The Ghanaians prevailed on that occasion, winning 6-5 on penalties after the game had ended goalless in normal time. Will we be seeing a repeat on Wednesday? “No,” replied Ayiah. “We think we’re going to perform well and win the game. We want to score and I think we’re capable of winning it before a shoot-out. We’ll be doing all we can to keep our run going.”

Ayiah in his own words “I haven’t seen any of the matches from when Ghana won the title in 1991 and 1995, but I have read about them. We want to regain the trophy and raise our country’s flag high.”

“All the players dream of playing in Europe. We need to show our potential and work as a team, so that we can each get the rewards we deserve.”

“I’m a Cristiano Ronaldo fan. He’s the complete package and he works really hard in training to improve his game. He does some amazing things in matches. I hope I can follow in his footsteps.”

“I started playing football when I was very young, on dirt pitches. Then I joined Charity Stars. I played for the club’s junior teams from the age of 10 and I’m now in the youth team. We play in the second division.”