Mali U-20 players celebrating
Friday May 29, 2015. 10:29
Mali will launch their U-20 FIFA World Cup New Zealand 2015 campaign against Mexico in Dunedin on Sunday 31 May.
The young Eagles will be making their sixth appearance at the international junior event, with a third place finish in the 1999 edition as their best result to date.
MALI U-20 DETERMINED TO SHINE IN NEW ZEALAND
The Malians booked their spot in New Zealand after sealing a fourth-place finish at the U-20 African Championship in Senegal last March, and will fly the continent’s flag together with Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal at the prestigious tournament.
Head coach Fanyeri Diarra kept his faith in the squad that enjoyed three consecutive wins in the group stage of the latest African Youth Championship before falling to hosts Senegal in the semi-finals, making only five changes to his team.
He decided to call back keeper Djigui Diarra, midfielder Adama Traoré and striker Dieudonné Gaklé, and hand a maiden call-up to Algeria-based defender Mohamed Diallo and Laval forward Lassine Konaté.
However, Diarra made the trip to New Zealand with only 20 players as striker Souleymane Sissoko had to stay behind in Bamako because of administrative issues.
Thirteen-time U-20 World Cup campaigners Mexico will enter the game as favourites, as they are looking to claim their first crown in the competition. But Mali will be set for revenge after falling 1-4 to the Mexicans in the group stage of the latest edition two years ago.
The young Eagles will pursue their World Cup journey with a battle against Serbia on 3 June, before facing their final Group D opponents, Uruguay on 6 June.
The game will kick off at Otago Stadium at 3h00 CAT on Sunday.