Hartpury College made its debut at the 2014 FIFA World Cup yesterday, with former student Abdul Majeed Waris starting for Ghana in their Group G clash against Portugal.
Manager Kwesi Appiah handed the Ghanaian youngster his first World Cup start at the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, after the 22-year-old striker had recovered from a leg injury which had side-lined him for the first two matches in Brazil.
Unfortunately for the Black Stars, they came up against an experienced Portugal side which included current World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Real Madrid star scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory.
Waris started the game brightly, showing the form which generated interest from top Premier League sides Everton and Chelsea before he made his move to nine-time Russian Champions Spartak Moscow.
The Black Stars went a goal down, however, when defender John Boye could only divert a cross from the left side into the roof of his own net, leaving goalkeeper Fatawu Dauda helpless.
Ghana responded just 10 minutes into the second half as Asamoah Gyan found himself in space at the back post to head Ghana level.
This signalled a period of dominance for the African side, with Waris, Gyan, and Andre Ayew all threatening. Waris had an opportunity to put Ghana ahead, but his header drifted agonisingly past the post.
And the team’s missed chances proved to be their undoing, as Ronaldo struck in the 80th minute to ensure Portugal took the victory.
Waris’ World Cup debut is another landmark in his extraordinary footballing journey, which began at the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana and then saw his skills honed under the watchful eye of football staff at Hartpury College.
Hartpury Director of Football, Radcliffe, said: “It was absolutely fantastic to see a Hartpury student perform on the biggest stage in football and we are all so proud of him. He was exemplary during his time here, showing the hard work and determination that he shows in every match, so this was extremely well deserved.
“This just goes to show the strength of our programme here and I’m confident that Waris will have a big role to play for Ghana in many World Cups and major competitions to come.”