Wednesday 24 April 2019, 07:00

Power and precision define Sackey strike

  • Alberta Sackey scored a wonderful goal against Australia in 2003

  • Her brace that day propelled Ghana to first win at Women’s World Cup

  • Vote for your favourite goal from our shortlist of ten!

In our search for the greatest goal in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ history, we focus today on Ghanaian Alberta Sackey’s strike at USA 2003.

Though now considered heavyweights of African football, it is not that long ago when Ghana’s men were still dreaming of a maiden appearance on the world stage. In fact, it was only in 2006 that the Black Stars made the first of three consecutive appearances at the FIFA World Cup™. Prior to that breakthrough, it was not uncommon to hear the crowd at international games shout, “Coach, bring on Sackey!”

The only problem was that there was no such player on the bench – the footballer in question being Alberta Sackey, captain of Ghana’s women’s national team. The figurehead of the Black Queens around the turn of the century, she led her country to the 1999 and 2003 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the USA.

It was at the second of these that Ghana finally registered their first win at the tournament, a 2-1 defeat of Australia courtesy of a brace from Sackey. That historic result is also memorable for the player’s magnificent opening goal.

Forward Alberta Sackey #15 of Ghana scores

The goal

Kurt Melcher, the coach of the university team at Robert Morris College in Chicago, recruited Sackey after watching her impress for Ghana against Sweden at the previous World Cup. “Teams don't know what to do with her,” he said at the time. “Every time she gets the ball, opponents double up on her and put her under pressure, but it makes absolutely no difference. She knows precisely where she wants to put the ball and always finds a way to score.”

And that is exactly what happened in Portland on 28 September 2003, when Sackey intercepted a pass from Bryony Duus while under pressure from Diane Alagich some 25 yards from the Matildas’ goal. Sidestepping the defender’s lunge, and with central defender Cheryl Salisbury about to close her down, the Ghanaian playmaker unleashed a wonderful strike with the outside of her right foot that curled into the top-left corner of Melissa Barbieri’s goal.

That moment of magic occurred in the 34th minute and Sackey needed just five more to double her and Ghana’s tally. Though less spectacular that her first, it was no less important, assuring as it did her side’s victory when Australia pulled one back just after the hour mark (2-1).