Mumbai: African champions Mali will be eager to put it across Turkey to rejuvenate their campaign in the ongoing Fifa U-17 World Cup. The last edition runners-up showed great character to comeback against Paraguay after conceding two early goals but conceded a penalty in second half to eventually lose 2-3. However, with playmaker like Salam Giddou in the middle and tall strong defence with swift and skilled forwards, they still go favourites in their second Group B match here on Monday.
“I am positive that mentally these players are strong. Players were over-enthusiastic to finish off the game as early as possible. We made some errors, we don’t have to repeat them,” Mali coach Jonas Komla had said after the loss to Paraguay.
In a fast-paced game, Mali created many chances but their towering defence was tested by brilliant Paraguay forwards and they cracked up many times.
Turkey were also fast and expressive against New Zealand in the first half but they let the Kiwis come back in the second half strongly with a momentary lapse in concentration. Turkey were swift on the wings but couldn’t carry the steam into the second half.
The weather here has changed since Friday and rains have blocked evening slots in the last couple of days. Players also get some relief from heat if not humidity.
Paraguay smell knockout berth
In another Group B clash here, table-toppers Paraguay meet New Zealand on Monday. Paraguay displayed quality against a strong Mali side on Friday and they will look for another win to secure their knockouts berth.
Paraguay may not have tall players like Mali but they matched them in physical and mental strength.
Paraguayan goalkeeper Diego Huesca, who is with Spanish club Valencia, impressed on Friday and will look to keep a clean sheet this time.
Morinigo is taking no chances against New Zealand who showed them the exit door in the last edition at Chile.
Paraguay’s best performance came in the 1999 edition held in New Zealand, when they finished fifth and haven’t been able to progress to knockouts since.
New Zealand showed great fighting spirit in the two practice games against Brazil and England here. They however will miss their skipper Max Mata who earned a second booking in injury time against Turkey. He was sent off and will miss Monday’s game....