New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) Mali booked their spot in the knockout stages with a dominant 3-1 win over New Zealand in a Group B match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Thursday.
For Mali, Salam Jiddou (18th minute) scored the opening goal while Djemoussa Traore (50th minute) doubled the lead shortly after the restart. Lassana N’Diaye (82nd minute) scored the third goal for Mali.
The lone goal for New Zealand was scored by substitute Charles Spragg (72nd minute).
Both teams needed a win in order to be among the top two in the group and the Africa U-17 champions did so with aplomb.
They ended the group stage with six points from three matches and advanced from the group along with Paraguay.
New Zealand crashed out with just one point from three matches.
New Zealand’s regular skipper Max Mata was back in the side after missing the second match due to suspension.
Mali dominated right from the start and the Kiwis were lucky to get away by conceding just three goals.
The combination between Mali centre forward Salam Jiddou and Djemoussa Traore was too much to handle for the New Zealand defence.
Traore was superb down the wings while Salam was dangerous whenever he received the ball.
The duo received excellent support from Fode Konate and Mali captain Mohamed Camara who were a constant threat around the Kiwi penalty area.
The Africans could have won by a bigger margin but Traore hit the post just before the break while Konate’s effort from outside the Kiwi penalty box bounced off the underside of the bar in the 66th minute.
The Mali defence was also well organised and did not allow too much space to the Kiwi forwards.
New Zealand were constantly pushed back and failed to combine and create space in the final third.
The Kiwis played a lot of long balls and crosses, hoping to beat the rival defence with their pace and height.
The African U-17 champions broke the deadlock with a powerful long-range effort by Salam Jiddou which ended up in the back of the net from 22 yards out.
The goal came as a result of Djemoussa Traore assist, who made a backward pass after opening up space for Jiddou, who later finished.
The Oceania U-17 Champions, looked nowhere in the game in the first half, hustling to clear the defence and failing to find a breakthrough with their long balls.
In the 43rd minute, Traore came close to scoring a second goal for Mali with a close-range shot but was denied by the post.
New Zealand made one substitution at the start of the second half, bringing in Charles Spragg to replace Matthew Palmer.
Traore, who assisted the first goal helped Mali double the lead by scoring from outside the penalty box.
New Zealand changed their approach a bit in the second half. They played more backward passes to combine amongst themselves in order to find a break but failed against the strong Mali defence.
In the 66th minute, Mali came close to tripling the lead, courtesy a long-range effort from Konate but he was denied by the cross-bar.
Mali substitute Mamadou Traore showed great pace and skill on the flanks to get better of the New Zealand defence and constantly caused problems for the opposition.
New Zealand scored against the run of play in the 72nd minute when Charles Spragg headed in an accurate cross to the second post by Elijah Just.
Despite the goal, Mali kept on charging and succeeded in finding the back of the net for the third time.
Lassana N’Diaye (82nd) made the issue safe for the Africans when he utilised some poor marking to slot home a pass by Konate.
The dying minutes of the match saw Mali combining to take long-range efforts only to see the ball sail over the goal.