Dominant Mali dismantle New Zealand to enter knockouts
NEWDELHI: Two-time African U-17 champions Mali thrashed New Zealand 3-1 to enter the knock out rounds of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Goals from Jiddou Salam, Djemoussa Traore and Lassana N’ Di aye were enough to end New Zealand’s hopes of directly making it to the round of 16.
From the get-go, it was apparent that Mali came into the game with the intention of dominating possession. Throughout the course of the game, they executed it to perfection. Having worked extensively on their short passes during training the previous evening, they constantly kept the ball and didn’ t look in any rush to create chances. New Zealands at back in the early period, likely hoping to absorb the early pressure and then later pick their opponents off on the break should the chance arise. However, Mali didn’t allow New Zealand the room to break pace and the African team grew in confidence as the minutes wore on.
They looked the likelier to score and the breakthrough arrived in the 18th minute when Jiddou Salam launched a thundering shot intothe top-right cor- ner following Djemoussa Traore’s lay-off. Mali were in front, and deservedly so.
The rest of the half saw Mali patient ly keep the ball while New Zealand, now a goal behind, pushed forward in search of an equaliser before the break.
However, they only managed a solitary shot on target in the first half and even that wasn’t enough to significantly trouble Mali shotstopper Youssouf Koita.
The second half saw Mali continue to dominate and they doubled their lead in the 541 st minute when Djemoussa Traore’s shot rifled into the back of the net. The African side continued to create chance sand should have been 3-0 up when Lassana N’Diaye headed wide from close range after New Zealand goalkeeper Zac Jones parried Fode Konate’s shot straight into his path.
Eight minutes after this, New Zealand pulled one back through second half substitute Charles Sp ragg, giving New Zealand some hope of pulling off an upset.
However, those hopes were ended once and for all when Lassana N’Diaye finished well from close range to restore Mali’s advantage and snuff out New Zealand’s brief resistance.
New Zealand coach Danny Hay was quick to admit that Mali were the better side. “We knew that Mali are a dominant side.”
Mali's Boubacar Haidara & NZ's Mathew Palmer fight for the ball.