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Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 14:35 UK

Spirit and grit key to Ghana triumph

The Ghanaian team and staff celebrate their win

By Matthew Kenyon
BBC Sport, Cairo

"They play with a free spirit" - that was England coach Brian Eastick's assessment of Ghana ahead of the group game between the two teams here at the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.

At the time, having not seen the Black Satellites play in person, I thought this was very possibly so much cliché.

But after watching them live six times, I had to agree with him, although there is much more to this team than attack.

The truth is this Ghana side, World Champions now of course, is massively entertaining to watch - they certainly keep you on the edge of your seat.

Their style captured the imagination of the local fans as Dominic Adiyiah, ably supported by fellow striker Ransford Osei and captain Dede Ayew, raced to the Golden Shoe award for the tournament's top scorer.

With Samuel Inkoom and David Addy flying down the flanks to provide service, the Black Satellites had the perfect attacking formula.

But if you devote yourself to attack, then your defence frequently suffers - and that problem persisted for Ghana.

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They were at their most vulnerable having just scored themselves - seemingly relaxing too much and allowing the opposition opportunities they should not have had.

This happened in their quarter final and their semi, both of which finished in 3-2 wins for the Black Satellites.

And their attitude, although they would deny this, often seemed to be "if they can score two, we can score three!"

And of course they could - but an alternative approach was needed in the final against Brazil.

Those of us who had talked about a high scoring match were proved wrong, as Ghana showed a very different side to their game in the Cairo International Stadium on Friday night.

They were strong in defence and showed magnificent resistance when forced to play the majority of the final with only 10 men.

A lesser team would have wilted at some stage, physically and emotionally exhausted, but Ghana knew they could stay with the South Americans and overcome them.

And so they did, thanks to the most dramatic device of the penalty shoot-out.

So in Africa, in the lead up to Africa's first World Cup, an African team has claimed the Under-20 crown for the first time.

And Ghana fully deserve their title.

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see also
Ghana thrilled by historic title
17 Oct 09 |  African
Ghana triumphant at U20 World Cup
16 Oct 09 |  African
Ghana to face Brazil in U20 final
13 Oct 09 |  African
Ghana and Hungary into U20 semis
09 Oct 09 |  African
Ghana top group as England go out
02 Oct 09 |  African

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