Mali were in their best form as they saw off the much-fancied Ghana 3-0 and claim a slot in the quarter-finals of the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Black Satellites, winners in 2009, came into the game as favourites, having beaten Argentina and emerge as Group B winners.
Goals from Diadie Samassekou, Diedonne Gbakle and Aboubabacar Doumbia scored sealed the day for the Junior Eagles, who now await winners of the round of 16 match between Germany amd Nigeria in the quarter-finals.
Also on Wednesday, Senegal booked their spot in the last eight via a shoutout win over Ukraine. Both sides were evenly poised after regulation and extra time, but it was the more agile Senegalese who advanced 3-1 on penalties.
Striker Sidy Sarr restored parity for Senegal nine minutes from the end of regulation time.
Goalkeeper Ibu Sy saved three out of four spot kicks to help coach Joseph Koto’s men reach the last 16.
Quotes via FIFA.com.
Sellas Tetteh, Ghana coach
First of all I’d like to congratulate my fellow coach from Mali and his team, who deserved their place in the quarter-finals today, but of course I’m also extremely disappointed. We simply didn’t settle into our game, and in the last third in particular we just lacked ideas and creativity. We also made too many unnecessary mistakes in our build-up play, and our opponents severely punished us for that. Mali were the better team today. You’re always going to lose a match where every 50/50 ball lands at the feet of your opposition.
Fanyeri Diarra, Mali coach
We were extremely well prepared to face Ghana today and did exactly what we set out to do. My team kept things very compact and we delivered a great performance. The players in this squad are able to put my tactical ideas into practice, so I’m very happy about that and delighted that we’ve made the quarter-finals. We’ve got a good mix in this side; some of the lads still play in Africa while others come from Europe. The European players have brought some superb experience with them and have lifted the team to a much stronger level.
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