Mali coach Jonas Komla is confident that his boys will put up a good show against Iraq in the pre-quarterfinal of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, with an aim to earn contracts from big European clubs.
Mali are runners-up from the last edition held in Chile in 2015, where they lost to Nigeria in the final. “We respect Iraq although they did not have too many good games in the league phase but they are a strong side. We are expecting a great game tomorrow against Iraq,” Komla said ahead of the match.
“The boys know that U-17 World Cup is a good opportunity for them to showcase their talent and eventually play for big European club in future,” Komla set the agenda straight.
Mali have been a good team at the junior World Cups but the senior team has done precious little and Komla blames it on team not staying together after the age-group level. “At the junior level, our team is doing well but at senior level, they have not lived up to the expectation. The reason being, at the junior level, all the boys are together with us for a long time.
“They learn the tactics but the national players, who play in Europe come only three to four days before the tournament and find difficult to understand our philosophy and tactic we do during the training,” stated Komla.
Iraq coach Qahtan Ali Rabaye is aware about their opponents being a far superior and physically stronger side. However he wants his boys to pay with a positive approach.
“It is a good achievement to have made it to the knock-out stage. Now that we have qualified, we need to play to our potential and win tomorrow,” Ali rabaye said.