The National Under-17 side, the Black Starlets were silenced by a more purposeful and physical Malian side at the ongoing Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Under-17 World Cup in India.

The Starlets for the second time this year lost to their West African neighbors Mali, in a game played in a heavy rain, which rendered the pitch soggy and slippery.

It made passing difficult for both sides, but Mali triumph in the face of challenges.

Two goals from Hadji Drame and Djemoussa Traore ensured the Malians were the first country to book a semi-final berth, with a consolation goal from Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus.

Hadji Drame fired the Malians into the lead in the 15th minute and Djemoussa Traore doubled their lead just after the hour mark.

Malian coach, Jonas Komla stuck to the same line-up for the third game in a row, playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with star striker Lassana N’Diaye playing up top as Ghana made one change from the team that beat Niger in the round of 16.

Edmund Arko-Mensah was dropped at left back for Gabriel Leveh as Mali showed intent early on in the game as Mohammed Idriss’ cross found no one in the Ghana box.

Ghana’s leading goal scorer Eric Ayiah failed to showcase his poaching instincts from an Ibrahim Sulley set up, but three minutes later, Mali broke the deadlock.

Against the run of play, Salam Jiddou played a beautiful one-two with N’Diaye and found Hadji Drame who slotted the ball home in from an angle.

An Ibrahim Sulley’s 40th minute goal for Ghana was disallowed as referee Mehdi Abid Charef had already blew the whistle, which coach Fabin described as “disappointing”.

Malian skipper Mohammed Camara tried to get one in the dying minutes of the first half but his attempt was foiled by a weak shot after doing so well to cut past two defenders.

Conditions at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati turned worse in the second half of the game, as both teams returned from the tunnel, with the downpour getting heavier.

Ibrahim Sadiq was brought on for Ibrahim Sulley at as Kwesi Paa Fabin chose to strengthen his attack in quest of an equalizer.

A long ball from the center into the Ghana goal area saw goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim’s mis-kick gifting Djemoussa Traore a nice opportunity to put the second goal behind him, with a well curled ball from the left side.

With Sadiq Ibrahim winning a penalty for his side from a brutal tackle from Fode Konate, inside the Malian box, gave Kudus Mohammed a nice opportunity to displace Youssouf Koita in post for Mali.

There was jubilation after the full time whistle as Mali became the first team to qualify for the semifinals as they now travel to Navi Mumbai to face the winners of the match between Spain and Iran on 25th October, 2017.

Source: GNA/


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