Football

FIFA U17 World Cup: Mali in semifinals

Driving forward: Hadji Drame, centre, drew first blood for Mali against Ghana.

Driving forward: Hadji Drame, centre, drew first blood for Mali against Ghana.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Ghana caught leaden-footed in the rain

Mali overcame slushy underfoot conditions to beat Ghana 2-1, and ensure a semifinal ticket in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Saturday.

Hadji Drame took Mali ahead before Djemoussa Traore doubled the lead just past the hour mark. Kudus Mohammed pulled one back for Ghana in the final quarter, but Mali defended resolutely thereafter.

Heavy rain lashed the venue before the start and officials of both sides were found protesting against the conditions.

Mali dominated the creative zone, where Salam Jiddou was able to find his colleagues upfront with regular assists.

Mali could have gone ahead in the sixth minute, when a Jiddou pass found Drame unmarked inside the box. However, Drame made the mistake of running too deep inside and saw his attempt landing on the side netting.

Mali continued to make repeated build-ups as Jiddou and Mohamed Camara took control in the middle.

As Mali increased pressure, the Ghana citadel fell in the 15th minute. The Jiddou-Drame combination came good this time.

Ghana’s 41st-minute goal, by Ibrahim Sulley, was disallowed and captain Eric Ayiah hauled up for an infringement.

Ghana coach Samuel Fabin protested the referee’s decision saying the latter “acted too late in calling the foul”.

The Ghana coach also complained that conditions were “not proper for a World Cup match”.

The heavy underfoot conditions caught Ghana on the wrong foot. This told mostly on goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim.

The first goal came when Ibrahim forgot to guard the near post and allowed Drame’s attempt to sail past his shoulder.

The second goal was rather comical as Ibrahim left his post to clear a long ball and ended up miscuing it to Traore.

Seeing Ibrahim out of position, Traore aimed a long chip into the open goal. Ibrahim made a quick recovery only to see the ball slip out of his hands and into the goal as he went for a catch.

Kudus scored for Ghana off a 70th-minute penalty.

“We had trained adequately in rain to prepare for the conditions. This move helped us modify our game and get the breaks at the right time,” was how Mali coach Jonas Komla defined his team’s win.

The result: Mali 2 (Hadji Drame 15, Djemoussa Traore 61) bt Ghana 1 (Kudus Mohammed 70).

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:42:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-u17-world-cup-mali-in-semifinals/article19897830.ece

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