The Africans outclassed the Turks to go top of Group B.

Mali trounced Turkey 0-3 in a FIFA U-17 World Cup Group B match played at the D. Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai earlier today. A first half strike by Djemoussa Traore in the 38th minute and the 68th minute poachers goal by Lassana Ndiaye followed by 86th minute goal by Fode Konate were enough to send the Turkish packing.

The match began with both teams intent on getting their first win and looking to make headway in to the competition. Turkey started with a 4-3-3 as opposed to the back three that they started in the previous game. Mali played the same formation apart from the fact that they left two attackers upfront while retreating back.

Mali came very close to scoring the opener in the 5th minute with Lassana Ndiaye latching on to a through ball only to be ruled offside. Turkey also tried to gain momentum but, due to reasons unknown, a sense of defensiveness crept into both sides. The game was restricted to the midfield for large durations of the first 20 minutes.

Both the teams did try to create chances but it was felt that their first half tempo, which had fizzled out in the second half for both teams in their respective first encounters was clearly playing on their minds. Mali had gone ultra-offensive in the first half and were schooled by Paraguay in the second. Turkey too had tried the all-out attack approach against the New Zealanders just to lose momentum in the second half and hand the All Whites a draw.

Ndiaye came close again in the 15th minute only to slot the ball wide from under Berke Ozer, the Turkish shot-stopper. He came across another through ball three minutes later but placed the ball into Ozer’s hands. In the 22nd minute a well weighed cross by Fode Konate, the Malian right back missed Lassana’s head by a whisker as the Turkish colts breathed a sigh of relief.

Watch Turkey 0-3 Mali Highlights

After the 20th minute, Mali looked to be on the offensive and gained momentum in the attack. Turkey on the other hand seemed to have forgotten their way to the final third. Malik Karaahmet did try to breach the defense of the Central African boys but Youssouf Koita, the goalkeeper came charging and thwarted the enterprising Turk’s attack. After this the ball was played around with almost no outcome.

In the 31st minute, Mali came close to scoring again when Aboulaye Diaby, the towering defender, rose highest to power a header towards goal only to be denied by a reflex save by Ozer. Immediately after this the serial misser, Ndiaye missed an open chance to put the African nation ahead. Mali played a system of consistent through balls and relied heavily on their forwards’ pace to get the attacks going.

Mali’s creative and penetrating play finally paid dividends in 38th minute, when winger, Djemoussa Traore latched on to a brilliant through ball and snuck it past the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the goal.

Turkey’s previous match hero, Ahmed Kutucu was replaced at the 42nd minute of the first half on account of a collision leading to an injury. Sefa Akgun took his place in attack and seemed to add a spark but the score remained at 1-0 in favour of Mali at the halftime whistle.

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The second half kicked off with a substitution for Turkey with Recep Gul coming in for Atalay Babacan. Recep was the captain of the Turkish Colts in the first match. The pace of the second half of the game was drab and the contest seemed to have cooled down with the rain. Apart from a few rash tackles, nothing exciting was witnessed as Mali seemed to have decided to sit back and enjoy the narrow lead.

Yunus Akgun than decided to inspire the Turkish Colts by firing a shot just over the cros bar. This seemed to have worked marginally as the team pushed harder ahead in pursuit of a goal.

Mali started to press forward from the 65th minute and this resulted in a well earned corner. The 68th minute corner landed right at the feet of Abdoulaye Diaby who shot the ball onto the inside of the upright and the ball fell to the feet of Ndiaye. who, Ndiaye, without hesistation put it into the back of the net.

With the rain lashing the stadium, the momentum of the game all but died out only to be occasionally revived by the wild run of a Malian player. The substitutions on either side failed to add anything to the game as by the 80th minute any excitement left in the match went in to the drain with the rain.

Cheick Oumar Doucoure came off the bench to replace Salam Jiddou which suddenly changed everything for the Malians. They started probing more and more in the last five  minutes of the game and put pressure on the Turks. This resulted in Fode Konate, the overlapping full-back to come across a through ball which he thundered past the goalkeeper onto the underside of the crossbar and into the goal.

The game ended 3-0 in favour of the Central African nation who now sat atop Group B on goal difference before Paraguay faced New Zealand in the second match of the day.

Watch Paraguy 4-2 New Zealand Highlights

In the other game of the day Paraguay won 4-2 against New Zeland.  Surprisingly all six goals were scored by Paraguayans.

Alan Rodriguez bent it like Beckham to send a free-kick into the far post in the 2nd minute leaving no chance for the New Zealand shot-stopper, Jacob Clark. In the 20th minute New Zealand drew level through a Leon Van Den Hoven free-kick which was tucked into the goal by Paraguay’s own defender and captain, Alex Duarte. In the 34th minute Alex Duarte doubled the score against his own team when Elijah Just put in an incisive ball.

The second half carried the momentum forward as both teams looked to add to the goals. Paraguay drew level first at the 75th minute and then took the lead within three minutes with the help of Anibal Vega’s double. Blas Armora then increased the gap by two in added time by shooting a superb goal into the top corner of the far end over the onrushing New Zealand keeper.

Paraguay lead Group B with 6 points putting New Zealand just above Turkey who lost against Mali by a 3-goal margin. Mali are currently placed second in the group and look set to progress unless New Zealand pull of a victory against them.