U17: Belgium survive Mali attack
Belgium survive Mali attack and holds them off for a 0-0 stalemate.
Belgium and Mali played out an entertaining goalless draw in Talca, in which the African’s attacking prowess and flair was contained admirably by a sturdy Belgian defence. 15-year-old Sekou Koita was the standout player, and he went the closest with a first-half effort that crashed against the woodwork.
Koita lit up the early stages of the game, with his close control and trickery confounding the European side’s defence. Midway through the opening period he danced through the Belgian defence, hit a cross-cum-shot, and it was poked in by Boubacar Traore – but the assistant referee’s flag denied the Malians
After Amadou Haidara went close by fizzing a long range drive wide of Jens Teunckens’ left-hand post, Koita delivered another moment of magic. A thunderous drive of his own crashed back off the corner of post and crossbar.
Traore was next to go close, heading over after Sidiki Maiga had done well to control and cross a high ball.
Mali’s dominance continued after the interval, with Traore once more in a good position, this time after Abdoul Dante had nodded on a deep set-piece, but the No11 could only help the ball over the crossbar.
The best chance of the second half came Aly Malle’s way. The electric Koita slipped in Mali’s No9, who went one-on-one with Teunckens, but his shot skewed wide and into the side netting.
The Malians will look to work on their profligate finishing in the coming days before they face Ecuador on Wednesday, while Belgium face Ecuador earlier the same day.
“To be honest this is not the correct result. Mali was stronger and played fantastic, beautiful football. I can only congratulate the coach, the team and the federation. They played aggressive and technically strong. But I also have to congratulate my team. It defended quite well and tried everything. The did it well. Our philosophy is to have the ball but today our opponent was too strong. Of course we are satisfied with this point,”Bob Browaeys, Belgium coach
“Today we had bad luck. We created many chances but we didn’t score. Belgium defended well, especially in the second half. They closed the spaces and for us it was more difficult to find the room to create more chances. Thinking of goal scoring we are normally really effective – what we showed at the African Championship. Nevertheless we can be really proud about our perfomance today,” Baye Ba, Mali coach
Source : Fifa