FIFA U-17 WC: Mali remains upbeat in defeat

"We are among the top four teams in the world (in this age group) so I can't be disappointed with the tournament," Mali coach Jonas Komla said after his team crashed out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup semifinal.

"In the second half we played well and tried to use our pace in the final 15 minutes but that's football for you" said Mali coach Jonas Komla.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

As Spain reached the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the expense of Mali, the coach of the U-17 African champion was gracious in defeat despite being wrongly disallowed a legitimate goal.

Read: FIFA U-17 WC: Ruiz brace sets up all-Europea final

"I can't comment on the referee's decision. This is how football is. Maybe that goal could have changed things for us, since we played better in the second half, but Spain deserved the win.

"In the second half we played well and tried to use our pace in the final 15 minutes but that's football for you" said Mali coach Jonas Komla.

Takeaways from the tournament

"We are among the top four teams in the world (in this age group) so I can't be disappointed with the tournament. I am happy with how we performed at the world cup.

"It has been a great experience playing in India and we still have the third-place game against Brazil. We would like to win that," he said.

Meanwhile, Spain's coach Santi said it would be unfair to remember this semifinal for the ghost goal as it will mask what turned out to be an exhibition from the U-17 European champion. "I was expecting that question. I understand if Mali is upset but you can't say the goal could have changed the game. 

"We respect the referee's decision and realise it's a very tough job officiating a game. In fact, I would like to suggest that showing replays on the big screen should not happen again because it will influence the referee for the rest of the game," he said.

Captain fantastic

Santi heaped praise on his captain Abel Ruiz, who scored a double in the semifinal while acknowledging he could have had a few more. "I am very happy with Ruiz. Not surprised with his performance throughout the tournament. he is someone who demands a lot from himself every game and he will know he could have scored more tonight. Anyway, the team gets a great boost when it sees its captain lead from the front."

On today's tactics

"The idea today was to avoid playing transition football but the pace of the game dictates how we play. As we are Spain, our philosophy is to hold on to the ball and use possession to our advantage but if needed we will play transition football, as you saw today, with a degree of care and caution.