Going, Going, Ghana

Two YSU Soccer Players Abruptly Join Ghana’s World Cup Team

By Dan Hiner

With the college soccer season coming to an end, the Youngstown State University soccer team will be without one of its best players for the rest of the season.

The YSU athletic department confirmed YSU midfielder Ernestina Abambila got on a plane to play with Ghana’s U20 World Cup team.

When asked, the YSU Sports Information Department was unaware of her leaving.

The U20 World Cup is Nov. 13 through Dec. 3, but YSU’s last game of the season isn’t until Oct. 28.

On Oct. 19, OC Sports News, a sports website headquartered in Ghana, reported Abambila joined the team at Ghanaman Soccer Centre of Excellence at Prampram.

According to Ghana’s U20 Facebook page, Abambila was also invited to try out for a roster spot on the World Cup team earlier in the year.

Abambila has started in all 14 games for the Penguins this season and leads the Penguins with six goals and assists with eight.

Abambila made her FIFA debut in 2014 while playing for Ghana’s U17 team. She played in four games during the tournament and scored one goal.

YSU freshman Belinda Anane, a midfielder and forward, also joined Abambila on the team. Anane, also a native of Ghana, made her FIFA debut in 2012. She played in six games for Ghana but hasn’t scored in any FIFA matches.

Anane has played in nine games for YSU, including four starts, but she hasn’t scored during her first season as a Penguin.

The YSU athletic department and the soccer team couldn’t comment any further on the issue.

But there is a question of the eligibility of both players. According to YSU Student-Athlete Handbook, “The Athletics Department requires that all student-athletes attend all classes.”

In regards to participating on an “outside team” such as the U20 World Cup teams, the handbook says “A soccer or volleyball student-athlete may compete on an outside team no earlier than May 1, or during an official vacation period outside of the team’s playing season.”

Elaine Jacobs, YSU’s associate director of Athletics, is also in charge of handling student-athlete eligibility and compliance. Jacobs also confirmed the players were on the Ghana roster but declined to comment on any eligibility issues.

Jacobs said if there is any punishment upcoming for the players, head coach Fabio Boateng will handle the situation internally.

Ghana’s first game will be against New Zealand on Nov. 14.