The stats show that Nigeria have scored 17 goals in five matches, while Mali have conceded just once all-tournament long. But it doesn’t do how the two remaining African sides of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup fared on Sunday. Gary Al-Smith reports.
African champions Mali have joined defending world champions Nigeria in the semi-finals, and both teams did it their way.
The holders took a significant step towards defending their title when they defeated Brazil 3-0 in Vina Del Mar on Sunday evening. All three goals came in a space of five first half minutes, with top striker Victor Osimhen scoring in his fifth straight game to give the Golden Eaglets the lead on 29 minutes, before goals from Kingsley Michael and Udochukwu Anumudu in the 30th and 34th minutes sealed the win.
Osimhen’s goal was his eighth of the tournament, putting him just one goal behind the highest goalscorers in the competition’s history. Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle scored nine goals in the 2001 tournament, and the feat was matched ten years later by Ivoirian Souleymane Coulibaly.
The Golden Eaglets, coached by former national star Emmanuel Amunike, will now take on the winner of Ecuador and Mexico in the semi-finals on Thursday in Concepcion.
The Malians produced another clean performance to defeat Croatia 2-1 in Chillan on Sunday night.
A goal by the exciting Sekou Koita in the first half was enough to send the Eaglets through to their first last-four appearance in the competition’s history.
Both sides had been unbeaten in the tournament and whichever won was going to be making it to their first semi-finals.
As has been typical of this Malian side that have scored within the first ten minutes of their last three games, they took the fight to the Europeans from early on.
They were rewarded in the 20th minute when danger man Koita fired across goal for his first goal in the tournament.
Despite their all out attacking play, the Malians have been stingy at the back, conceding just one goal before this game. It was little surprise then that they went on to deny the Croats any clear chances and record their fourth clean sheet in five games.
Mali will meet the winner between Belgium and Costa Rica in the semi-finals.
Results so far (Quarterfinals)
Brazil 0-3 Nigeria
Mali 1-0 Croatia
Belgium – Costa Rica
Source: myjoyonline. com 2015-11-02