FIFA U-17 WC: Turkey optimistic of knockout place despite loss

Mali, in its endeavour of scoring goals, was constantly marking Turkish players in the midfield and the 2017 Euro U-17 semifinalist was perhaps guilty of not altering its approach throughout the 90 minutes.

Players of Turkey and Mali (Yellow) in action during their FIFA U-17 World Cup football match in Mumbai on Monday.   -  PTI

Despite losing to Mali 3-0 in a Group B encounter here on Monday, Turkey head-coach Mehmet Hacioglu remains optimistic about his team’s chances of qualifying for the Round of 16. “We can make it to the next round as the third best-ranked team but it’ll be difficult for us,” he said.

Match Report: Mali v Turkey

Asked if Mali was better in terms of physical strength and stamina, Hacioglu said, “Before the tournament, these kind of physical differences were my concern. I can say that I can see these differences in the game,” while adding, “Also, the youth leagues start a little late in our country compared to other nations.”

Mali, in its endeavour of scoring goals, was constantly marking Turkish players in the midfield and the 2017 Euro U-17 semifinalist was perhaps guilty of not altering its approach throughout the 90 minutes.

And the coach said as much: “We’re aware of our strengths and the threat they (Mali) posed. Throughout the game, we tried to change the direction of the ball and the course of the game but were unsuccessful.”

He also felt that his team “made too many mistakes when it came to taking individual positions”, resulting in yet another disappointing performance.

He added, “I always ask my boys to play positively. We can create more chances by playing defensively or through counter-attacks. (But) if you look at the European Championship, it’s the end of the season there and we’re beginning our season — that’s why there are so many physical differences in our team.”

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