Ghana coach happy with preparations, picks team
11 September 2003 - Portland, Oregon
Ghana coach Oko Aryee is pleased with the way his team have been preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003. The Black Queens have been training feverishly in the Portland area for a full six weeks, playing eight friendlies along the way.
Aryee feels that the side are on target for where they need to be heading into their first Group D match against China PR
on 21 September.
“(The Chinese) are a mighty team, but we are not afraid of them,” the coach told FIFAworldcup.com. “Our preparations have gone very well. We have progressed very rapidly as a team while in Oregon.”
The team are being hosted by a youth football club, the Southside Soccer Club based in Tigard, Oregon. The club initially were going to provide use of a practice facility, but eventually the relationship grew until they helped the Black Queens raise money and arrange friendlies.
Their competitors have been varied, ranging from the Canadian women’s national team (a 1-1 draw in Seattle), to a handful of American college sides to a team made up of former university players.
A lacklustre 2-1 defeat to defending college champions University of Portland on 25 August had observers worried, but the emergence of a new offensive spark turned things around against the University of Oregon the following week.
Adjoa Bayor, who has logged time at both Robert Morris College with captain and star Alberta Sackey and second division club Northern Virginia Majestics, scored a brace in the opening minutes of the second half of a scoreless battle. With neither team able to create much up until that point, Bayor’s two long-range blasts opened up the match and signalled a new threat in Ghana’s attack.
Aryee singled out the 24-year-old forward along with Sackey and goalkeeper Memunatu Sulemana as Black Queens ready to make an impact at this month’s finals.
As for expectations, the Ghanaian coach is trying to keep his team moving in the right direction instead of making bold proclamations.
“We are hopeful of advancing out of the preliminary round,” he said. “Playing in the quarter-final in Portland would be very nice. It would be great to reach the semi-finals, but the most important thing is improving upon our performance in 1999.”
This eye on growth is necessary not just in terms of USA 2003, but also moving ahead as Africa continues to catch up with the two West African sides who lead the way in women's football, Ghana and neighbours Nigeria.
“Many countries in Africa are starting to take women's soccer seriously,” said Aryee. “It will be come increasingly difficult to qualify for one of the two World Cup spots from Africa in the future.”
Here is Aryee's informal team list heading into the finals. Official team lists will be released by FIFAworldcup.com on Saturday.
No. Name Position Age
1 Memunatu Sulemana GK 25
2 Patience Sackey DEF 28
3 Mavis Danso DEF 19
4 Akua Anokyewaa FWD 19
5 Patricia Ofori DEF 22
6 Florence Okoe MF 19
7 Belinda Kanda MF 21
9 Gloria Oforiwaa FWD 22
10 Adjou Bayor MF/FWD 24
11 Yaa Avor MF 23
12 Fafi Mohammed GK 24
13 Aminata Ibrahim DEF 22
14 Elizabeth Baidu DEF 28
15 Alberta Sackey FWD 30
16 Genevieve Clottey MF/FWD 34
17 Basilea Amooh-Telleh DEF/MF 19
18 Mavis Djangmah FWD 29
19 Lyndia Ankrah DEF 25
20 Gladys Enti GK 28
21 Mimi Osei-Agyemang FWD 21