African champions Mali bounced back after their opening match defeat by thrashing Turkey 3-0 in a Group B game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the D Y Patil Stadium on Monday. Having lost their lung opener 2-3 to Paraguay on October 6, last edition’s losing finalists Mali needed nothing less than a victory and they achieved it by scoring once in the first half and twice in the second. The Turks were outclassed and were lucky not to have conceded more goals.
After missing a spate of chances, Mali took the lead through midfielder Djemoussa Traore in the 38th minute. They made it 2-0 when their misfiring forward Lassana N’Diaye found the target in the 68th minute before defender Fode Konate rounded off the tally in the 86th minute by sidestepping two defenders.
It was the first win in two games for the Africans who meet New Zealand on October 12 to complete their group engagements while Turkey, who drew with New Zealand on October 6, are up against Paraguay on Thursday. Turkey were simply outclassed by the passing skills exhibited by Mali in match that was played under a persistent drizzle initially before the rains increased in intensity later. The Africans also constantly switched the ball across the field to get things moving.
Mali, runners-up to fellow Africans Nigeria two years ago, took the lead through midfielder Djemoussa Traore late in the first half. Traore ran forward without being challenged off a long diagonal pass by Abdoulaye Diaby and his left-footed angular shot beat Turkey goalkeeper Berke Ozer to find the far corner of the net in the 38th minute. Prior to this strike, three gilt-edged chances were missed by striker N’Diaye who was fed on a platter by the midfielders but could not put the ball in. His first shot went off target after striking the rival custodian Ozer who had his hands full in thwarting the constant attack on his citadel by the African team.
On two other occasions, N’Diaye fluffed after being fed first by Hadji Drame with a fine through ball and then a cross from the right by Konate. Two more long-range attempts by captain Mohammad Camara sailed over the cross bar. Finally, after three corner kicks were wasted, Mali took the lead through Traore.
Turkey hardy got a good look at the Mali goal except on a couple of occasions in the first half. N’Diaye at last got into the score-sheet early in the second half when he booted in a rebound that came off the left post from an attempt by Diaby in the 70th minute to give Mali a handy 2-0 lead.
Just prior to this goal, the Mali front-liner was denied a sure goal by the alertness shown by Turkey goalie Ozer when he connected a shallow cross from first goal scorer Traore.
Heavy rains started to drench the ground soon after the second goal and Mali could have taken a 3-0 lead but for the woodwork spoiling an on-the-run left-footed attempt by substitute Mamadou Traore in the 77th minute. But they were not to be denied nine minutes later when Konate hoodwinked two defenders and shot at the goal and the ball bounced in after hitting the underside of the cross bar.