Former Ghana midfielder Michael Essien has reiterated that the Black Princesses will bounce back following their exit from the ongoing FIFA U20 Women's World Cup.
Ghana were eliminated from the biennial tournament after losing to host nation France and the Netherlands in the opening games before winning their last match against New Zealand.
The Princesses have failed to make the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, the fifth time in five attempts that the Black Princesses have fallen short of the last eight.
However during an interview with FIFA.com, Essien is optimistic that the team will come good in their subsequent tournaments despite their continuous failure.
FIFA.com: What brings you to Brittany? Michael Essien: I was invited and I had no hesitation in accepting. It’s a pleasure and an honour for me to be here. I came to enjoy this great celebration of women’s football and I’m delighted that Ghana have been able to play a part in it.
Do you follow women’s football? Yes, it’s getting more and more interesting every year. I was in Miami a few days ago and I watched Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain’s matches in the Women’s International Champions Cup. The level was excellent and it was very entertaining. I really enjoyed it.
You’re now in Brittany watching the U-20 Women’s World Cup, having taken part in an U-20 world finals yourself back in 2001. I have great memories of that tournament. We had a superb run to the final, where the hosts, Argentina, beat us to the title. The experience will stay with me forever, though, especially as that was where I scored the one and only World Cup goal of my career, against Paraguay in our opening match. I also remember our win over Kaka’s Brazil in the quarter-finals. We scored the winner in the very last minute. Matches like that stay with you.
What does taking part in a competition like this mean to players? An awful lot. It’s a springboard for their careers because when you play the best in your age group it’s a chance for you to progress and to get yourself noticed. It’s a huge opportunity and you have to make the most of it and then keep riding the wave all the way to the highest level.
You met up with the Blacks Princesses. Tell us about it. I met them just before their opening match against France and it was great to talk to them. They’re great players and I could see that the atmosphere in the squad is really good. I’m only sorry I couldn’t bring them any luck in the competition.
What’s your view on their performance at France 2018? They’ve got their whole future ahead of them. They can be proud of themselves because they fought right till the end. They didn’t have an easy group and I’m happy that they left France on a winning note. They’ll come back stronger, and why not next year for the Women’s World Cup?