FIFA U-17 World Cup: Profligate Mali still pump three past Turkey
Mali squandered plenty of chances in their FIFA U-17 World Cup clash against Turkey but still managed to score three goals to stay in contention for a spot in the knockout stages.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 09, 2017 20:23 IST
Dominant Mali pumped three goals past a hapless Turkey in Group of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Monday, with the victory keeping them on course to qualify to the knockout stages.
Having lost to Paraguay 2-3 in their first group game, it was a must-win match for Mali at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
And although they picked up three points, it was far from a complete show by Mali’s boys-in-yellow. Goals from Djemoussa Traore, Lassana Ndiaye and Fode Konate did help the African giants get back to winning ways, but the number of chances they wasted showed they had a lot of work to do.
Everything but goals
It was a dominant show nonetheless. From overlapping runs to high balls finding the forwards over the frail Turkish defence line, every build-up seemed to come right off the training pitch. However, Mali looked wayward in the third quarter of the pitch.
Konate’s 86th minute screamer from just inside the box may have been the final nail in the coffin for Turkey but with 17 attempts on goal and just four on target in the first half, it was tough to figure out which set of players bore a more frustrating look. The situation didn’t change much in the second half.
But what stood out for Mali, runners-up of the last edition, was their accurate passing in the centre which helped dictate terms while keeping a solid backline to thwart the occasional attacks the Turks carried out. Having conceded three goals in the first game, it was a much more organised show by Mali on Monday that helped keep a clean sheet.
Mehmet Hacioglu, the Turkish coach, had lamented after the first game how his side had failed to play according to the game plan, after being held to a draw by New Zealand. However, his boys seemed to have failed Hacioglu again.
Despite keeping 53 per cent possession and winning 23 free-kicks, there were just eight attempts on goal, of which just four were on target, including frail attempts from outside the box.
Long balls from the deep defence, overlapping runs down the flanks, and one-touch passes, almost everything that came from the Mali half made it a herculean task for the Turkish defence to keep out. This despite Turkey often crowding their box with seven players.
Had Mali converted even one-third of their chances, the scoreline would have looked drastically different. The loss pushed Turkey to the bottom of the table. Their qualification hopes hang by a thread even if they win their last match against Paraguay on October 12.
At the end of the game, however, Hacioglu blamed that it the physical disadvantage between the two sides that was to be blamed for the loss. “The fact is very clear. We did not have enough physical and fitness capabilities which affected the result. Our biggest strength is technique but due to lack of physical capabilities and strength, we also lost our technical strengths that affected the result,” he lamented, before adding that the same would make their task difficult even in the last game.