Mali, Guinea set for Libreville showdown

Mali, Guinea set for Libreville showdown
Abdoul Salam Jiddou of Mali challenged by Rachid Alfari Souley of Niger during the 2017 Under 17 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Niger and Mali at the Libreville Stadium in Gabon on 18 May 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday May 23, 2017. 09:30

Mali and Guinea will battle for a place in the final of the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations when they meet at the Stade de l’Amitie Sono-Gabonaise in Libreville on Wednesday, kick-off at 19h30 CAT.

The teams have both secured passage to the U-17 World Cup in India later this year by virtue of reaching the semifinals, but now it is time to focus on claiming the continental championship.

Mali, who won the U-17 AFCON in Niger two years ago and went on to be runners-up at the subsequent World Cup in Chile, went unbeaten through the round-robin phase to finish top of Group B.

The Young Eagles started with a tame goalless draw against Tanzania, but moved up the gears in the next two matches to claim victories over Niger (2-1) and Angola (6-1), with the likes of Hadji Drame and Lassana N’Diaye coming to the fore in attack.

As for Guinea, they too went unbeaten through the group stage: a fantastic 5-1 win over hosts Gabon was followed by 1-1 and 0-0 draws with Cameroon and Ghana respectively.

This match will be a repeat of the 2015 semifinal, which saw Mali claim a 2-1 win over Guinea thanks to goals from Sekou Koita and Aly Malle. The Young Syli Nationale will be targeting revenge two years on from that disappointment.

The winners will advance into the final at the same venue in Libreville against either Ghana or Niger, who meet in the first semifinal in Port-Gentil earlier on Wednesday.

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