FIFA U-17 WC: Mali outclasses New Zealand

Goals from Salam Giddou, Djemoussa Traore and Lassana Ndiaye were enough for Mali to outclass New Zealand and qualify for the round of 16.

Mali's Salam Giddou gave his side an early lead with a brilliant strike in the 18th minute.   -  AP

Mali beat New Zealand 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday as it ensured its passage to the round-of-16 by virtue of finishing second in Group B, behind Paraguay.

Goals from Salam Giddou, Djemoussa Traore and Lassana Ndiaye were enough for the African U-17 champion to brush aside the Oceania U-17 champion in a game that was meant to a clash of champions.

However, the gulf in class was all too apparent as the Malians were technically and physically superior to their Kiwi counterparts.

MATCH CENTRE

The African side’s superiority was on display, as it played a high line when in possession with the New Zealand side forced on the back-foot as it crowded its own penalty box, thwarting one attack after the other.

Mali unsurprisingly had the lion's share of possession, with its attack originating from the left flank. In the 10 minute Kane went on a marauding run on the left flank, and after dodging two New Zealand defenders, he cut in on his right foot and curled one towards the goal.  He tested keeper Zac Jones but the latter did enough to palm away the shot for a corner.

READ: FIFA U17 WC: Clinical Paraguay breezes past Turkey

The inevitable occurred in the 18 minute, and how. Salam Giddou’s right-footed pile driver brought the Kiwis on their knees and the crowd on its feet. 

Djemoussa Traore intercepted New Zealand’s possession from the half way mark and went on what was his first of many marauding runs down the centre. And having come face to face with the NZ centre backs, he turned around and laid it off to Giddou, who unleashed a shot many keepers would struggle to keep out.

Commenting on his side's performance, New Zealand coach Danny Hay said, "We knew playing against the African Champions would be extremely difficult. I cant fault our players, their attitude was first class. Mali scored a couple of good goals but we have nothing to be ashamed of.”

“The standard of the competition (U-17 WC) is very high. Our group opponents all are great teams. India has been fantastic, our players have been here for close to three weeks.

The fans, media and the support we have gotten has been fantastic. Everybody will be going back home with great memories despite not making it to the next round.” 

 

The match had become a training routine between attack and defence, with Mali continuing to invade the left flank, giving the NZ right wing back grief with Traore playing wrecker in chief. After more pops at goal, Mali had to contend going into the half-time break with only a goal to its name.

Second half was more of the same and the African side doubled its lead in the 51 minute. Traore got his much deserved goal after yet another terrorising run. The left sided midfielder eased his way into the box and facing a 1 v 1 with the defender, he cut in to his right side and side-footed it past a diving Zac Jones.

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Mali almost inflicted more pain on the Kiwis in the 66 minute after Fode Konate hit the crossbar from a delightful chip from just outside the box.

However, a slew of such missed chances did cost Mali as the Kiwis halved the deficit against the run of play. Charles Spragg, who came on for fellow striker Matthew Palmer, headed in the 72 minute to give New Zealand hope. 

A neat one-two on the left flank saw Elijah Just free to put in a ball in the box, and his left-footed dink found the head of Spragg, who was unmarked in the far post.

Mali coach Jonas Komla said after his team's win, “After losing the first match, it didn’t stop us from going about our tactics. We were strong mentally and treated every match as a final.”

“Our first objective was to make it out the group stages and now the upcoming matches will be a direct elimination. We will have to correct our mistakes from the group stages and we will go with another approach.”

 

Ultimately, it proved nothing more than a silver lining for NZ as Mali striker Lassana Ndiaye sealed the deal in the 82 minute. A cross from the right flank from Konate seemed to be heading towards the keeper but Zac Jones parried the ball straight to Ndiaye, with the ball ricocheting off his leg and into the empty net.  

The win sees Mali finish second, with Paraguay topping the table with nine points to its name after it beat Turkey 3-0 in the other Group B game in Navi Mumbai.  

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