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Brazil secured the third place at the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup, defeating Mali 2-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday. After a cagey first half, a goalkeeping howler allowed Brazil open their account on 55 minutes. Alan made a forward run and attempted a right-footer from outside the area. Mali stopper Youssouf Koita, however, took his eyes off the ball and it sneaked through his legs into the net.
Koita was inconsolable after the match despite the fact that Brazil had doubled their advantage on 88 minutes through substitute Yuri Alberto. The Samba boys took the advantage of a high line and broke on the counter. The Mali defence had been struggling to set the offside traps right and on this occasion also, the positioning of their centre-halves was questionable. Alberto scored and jumped on the advertising billboards with his arms stretched. One for the camera.
Mali coach Jonas Komla backed his goalkeeper and said it’s part and parcel of football. “He’s also a human. I’m not angry with the goalkeeper at all. We had a lots of opportunities to score but it was hard luck today. We had a very nice match and had a lot of opportunities but unfortunately we could not score any. The opposition team were stronger and took their chances. I’m proud of my boys.”
A third place playoff is always a little harsh on the losing semifinalists because it constantly reminds the players that they have missed the cup. On the match eve, however, Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu tried to put things in perspective.
“At this level, in a development tournament, it’s about playing more matches. Playing seven matches is better than playing four or five matches. We are representing our country here and we will do it with honour,” he said.
Both Brazil and Mali fielded strong starting line-ups but the African side showed more attacking intent in the first half. Brazil’s only chance came on 19 minutes, when Lincoln set up Paulinho who fired wide from inside the area.
Even after the break, Brazil were happy to concede possession to Mali. The South Americans waited for their opportunities and capitalised on the breaks. “This was our worst match in the last two-and-a-half years. We were luck,” Amadeu wasn’t happy with his team’s performance today.
Brazil ’keeper Gabriel Brazao, however, had a good game despite the fact that he suffered dehydration in the second half. This was Brazil’s second third-place finish in the U-17 WC.