The United Through Sport Ghana Academy football team have come a long way in their short time together. This Saturday they faced their toughtest test to date. St Thomas Aquinas Senior High School in Central Accra played host to the United Through Sport Ghana Academy versus Right to Dream Academy, considered by many to be the finest Academy of Football in Africa, with both the U17s and U15s matching up against each other.
The first game of the day featured the U17 age group. A cagey start from the United Through Sport team saw a few nervous misplaced passes whilst neither team looked too desperate to take risks by committing men forward. The relentless strong African sun did not slow the pace of the game. Incisive pass and move football down the Right to Dream left flank worked space in the centre only for United Through Sport left back William to make a last gasp saving block to keep the scores level. Most of the action occurred down this side of the pitch, with right back and winger James and Stephen [respectively] combining effectively to test the Right to Dream goalkeeper half an hour into the tight contest. Minutes later United Through Sport full back James Kumah again went on the overlap. After cutting inside onto his left foot his pile-driving effort cannoned off of the bar to the relief of the helpless goalkeeper. The United Through Sport team were growing into the game, their strong midfield double pivot allowed the wingers and forwards to roam and cause problems for the opposition defence. Opportunities were narrowly missed and the game remained goalless.
Two Right to Dream midfielders were booked in close succession for cynical fouls that disrupted United Through Sport breaks. The United Through Sport right was exposed in a move that saw the Right to Dream Academy take the lead. Some slick one touch pass and move football created the space for an inviting cross that was met with a firm half volley from the Right to Dream striker. Somewhat unfairly, the UTS team found themselves behind on the stroke of halftime. This served as a poignant reminder of the quality and ruthlessly that their opponents possessed.
The United Through Sport Academy did not let their heads drop, knowing they had played the majority of the first half in the Right to Dream half and knowing they had more than earned the right to play their esteemed rivals. One half time change and rousing team talk immediately had the desired effect, substitute right winger Ibrahim controlled a fantastic deep cross and drilled a stinging shot across the goal into the bottom corner of the goal to level up the score.
The momentum was with the United Through Sport team now. Successive efforts at the Right to Dream goal from free kicks served as further warning that this game was not over. The Right to Dream defence had enjoyed a lot of possession along their backline with only the United Through Sport forwards, Ernest and Shaban, tasked with closing down. Their toil paid dividends when an interception followed by a lightning paced give and go passing move put striker Ernest Gyan one on one with the RtD goalkeeper. His cool finish sent the team, and large spectacting contingent, into raptures. Despite heavy late pressure and an injury to the United Through Sport goalkeeper, the United Through Sport Academy team held on to give them a huge and well deserved, morale boosting victory.
The U15 game was also a tense affair. Both teams struggled to carve out any notable chances and both goalkeepers were alert to the long range efforts that each defence restricted each other to. The most notable moment came late in the second half when a well worked move involving winger Richard Owusu and Ibrahim Sulley (appearing in both games) led to a penalty award for United Through Sport. Captain and Man of the Match, Daniel Mensah sent the keeper the wrong way but unfortunately sent his spot kick just wide of the post. Retribution came for the United Through Sport Captain as his excellent reading of the game allowed him to make an excellent goal line clearance and preserve the goalless scoreline, which was how the game finished.
The effort of both United Through Sport teams were fantastic on the day and made a big impression on the visiting side and their entourage. Results such as this one serve to remind the players that hard work can lead to attainable success and that nothing is impossible. In recent Summer tournaments the Right to Dream youth teams have gained creditable results against such worthy academies as; AC Milan, Boca Juniors and Manchester United. With many of the Right to Dream players expected to one day make the professional grade, these results can inspire our players to continue working hard towards this ultimate goal, shared by all at United Through Sport Ghana.