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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Mali look to register 1st win of tournament against Turkey

Mali will look to bounce back from their opening game loss to Paraguay when they face Turkey in a Group B encounter of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 09, 2017 09:30 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Mali national under-17 football team
Mali will take on Turkey in their second game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Monday. (CAFOnline)

Tipped as favourites to qualify from Group B, Mali find themselves in a precarious situation with a defeat on Monday likely to send the runners-up of the previous edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup out of the tournament.

In what was billed as a clash between the two top sides of the group, Mali had gone down to Paraguay 2-3 despite levelling things at 2-2 at one point. While their comeback had indeed been impressive, their frail defence line that fell apart in the first 17 minutes will be a cause of concern for the African champions. Against Turkey, they face a tricky opponent who are yet to unleash their full potential.

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Back against the wall

Conceding three goals is a disastrous show from any defence line on a given day but what cost Mali more in their game against Paraguay were the chances wasted by their attacking line. Coach Jonas Komla had stated after the game that it was the overenthusiastic display of his boys to finish things off quickly, that required rectification.

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“The players were overenthusiastic to finish off the game as early as possible (and) we will correct it so that the next match goes well. It (the result) has nothing to do with this climate, the climate what we have in Bamago is the same and we did some errors, we don’t have to repeat them,” Komla had said. Although Turkey may not be of the same quality as that of Paraguay, it wouldn’t be a walk in the park as well.

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Task cut out for Turkey

While their coach had admitted that it was a lapse in concentration that had led to his side conceding the goal against New Zealand, what came as a surprise were the few goal-mouth actions at the opposite end. And against New Zealand, whose defence had conceded five in two matches in the two friendlies, that shouldn’t actually have been a problem.

With a point in their tally, Turkey thus would want to notch up a shock victory over Mali to realistically keep their qualifying chances alive. A lot will depend on the duo of Ahmed Kutucu, who had helped his side take the lead in the previous game, and Atalay Babacan upfront Malik Karaahmet will be expected to up his game.

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 09:30 IST