Guwahati, Oct 21 (IANS) Mali won the battle of west African giants, beating Ghana 2-1 in a brusing quarter-final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Saturday.
Hadji Drame (15th minute) and Djemoussa Traore (61st) struck once in each half for Mali while Kudus Mohammed (70th) replied for Ghana through a penalty.
It was a replay of the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon earlier this year where Mali defeated Ghana 1-0 to win the continental title.
Mali maintained their dominance over their fancied rivals in a fast paced, physical encounter in pouring rain and a muddy, water logged pitch at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
Ghana had been impressive in the group stages and Round of 16, but their attacking prowess could hardly make its presence felt on Saturday as Mali put in a superb performance in both attack and defence.
Mali dominated proceedings right from the start and put the Ghana defence under constant pressure with their repeated attacks.
The Mali defence also did a good job, keeping the much vaunted Ghana forwardline at bay.
Mali took the lead off the counter when they won the ball in their own half near the centre circle which ultimately found its way to Hadji Drame who used his physical streghth to see off a challenge before powering in at the near post.
Ghana had their hearts broken in the 41st minute when an unmarked Ibrahim Sulley made use of a rare mistake by the Mali defence to find the net from close range.
But the goal was disallowed as Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus had fouled Ibrahim Kane while heading the incoming cross towards Sulley.
Mali continued to dictate terms after the break although the introduction of talented winger Sadiq Ibrahim in the place of Ibrahim Sulley added some much needed sharpness to the Ghana attack.
Mali however, doubled their lead when Ghana goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim virtually gifted them a goal.
With the Ghana defence in complete disarray amid another Mali attack, Danlad raced off his line but botched up his clearance. Traore followed the ball to the right flank before lobbing it towards the goal and was delighted when Danlad produced another horrible attempted clearance which found his own net.
The impressive Sadiq gave Ghana some hope when one of his speedy runs forced Mali’s Fode Konate to commit a foul inside the box. Kudus stepped up to convert the resultant penalty.
That goal rejuvinated Ghana’s flagging spirit but Mali continued to dominate as they sealed a well deserved win.
Post Source: Ians feed