Ghana's Black Satellites will be seeking a return to the top class of global youth football when the FIFA U-20 World Cup gets underway in Turkey on Friday.
The Satellites, the only African team to have annexed the global title in the history of the championship are making a return since their ground-breaking feat four years ago in Egypt. The Class of 2011 failed to defend the trophy won by their predecessors after a woeful output at the continental qualifiers in South Africa, where they failed to go beyond the group stage.
Expectations are high of the current team after their silver feat at the continental championship, where they lost out to Egypt in the final. Interestingly, the team is under the technical guidance of Sellas Tetteh, the man who led the Andre Ayew-led Satellites to break the 'African' curse four years ago.
Tetteh and his charges will be expected to go farthest in the competition despite being pitched in a 'group of death' with renowned forces in youth football - Spain, France and the United States of America (USA).
The Satellites team is dominated by a chunk of the squad that settled for second place at the African championship and augmented by the presence of Daniel Pappoe (Chelsea, England), Frank Opoku Acheampong (Anderlecht, Belgium), Baba Abdul Rahman (Greuther Furth, Germany) and Richmond Boakye-Yiadom (Sassoulo, Italy). Baba Rahman and Boakye Yiadom have rejoined the team after stints with the Black Stars in the double-header 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sudan and Lesotho.
The team had a modest preparation for the global championship, with camp in Accra before wrapping-up in Switzerland, where they took part in a four-nation tournament dubbed Valais Youth Cup. The tourney also featured African youth champions, Egypt, Brazil and Kosovo.
The Satellites after beating Kosovo lost out to Brazil on penalties in the final, in what turned out to be their only high profile game in the build-up to the tournament.
The Satellites will launch their campaign against France in the tournament opener on June 21, play Spain three days later, both in Istanbul before squaring USA on June 27, in Kayseri.
Other African participants are Egypt, Mali and Nigeria.