Mali, the runner up of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2015, beat Argentina 3-0 to finish third in this year’s edition at the Manahan in Indonesia on Friday.
Ibrahim Diarra – unquestionably one of the stars of Indonesia 2023 – opened the scoring on nine minutes. The Mali captain expertly controlled a lofted pass from Sekou Kone then placed a precision strike into the bottom corner.
Mali continued to control the game and got the second goal their efforts deserved on the stroke of half-time. Makalou was the creator, with his free-kick delivery headed home by Doumbia.
Though Argentina tried to get back on its feet after restart, Hamidou Makalou’s strike virtually ended the contest within three minutes. Makalou alighted on the ball just inside the box, nutmegged Tobias Palacio and, with one swift body-swerve, side-stepped Dylan Gorosito and goalkeeper Jeremias Florentin before tapping into an empty net.
Argentina’s Claudio Echeverri – who came on as a half-time substitute – thought he had reduced the deficit with a neat finish shortly after the hour, but he had strayed offside.
Makalou almost scored a spectacular second when his thunderous free-kick smashed off the underside of the crossbar. There were to be no further goals, however, as Mali comfortably saw out a mightily impressive victory.
“We’re happy. We would have liked to take home the cup, but this bronze medal is very nice. During the match, we stuck together, and I dedicate this victory to the Malian people,” Diarra said after the match.
On the other hand, the Albiceleste, who had turned a lot of heads after a commanding win against arch-rival Brazil, earlier in the tournament, finished fourth for the third time in the history of the tournament (2001, 2013, 2023).
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