Mali look to up their game for New Zealand clash

Mali look to up their game for New Zealand clash
Mali players celebrates during the 2017 Under 17 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Ghana and Mali at the Libreville Stadium in Gabon on 28 May 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Oct 11, 2017. 10:30

Mali will look for further improvement and a place in the last 16 of the U-17 World Cup when they take on New Zealand in their final Group B match on Thursday, set for the Jawaharlal Stadium in New Delhi, kick-off at 13h30 CAT.

The Eaglets bounced back to winning form with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Turkey on Monday, with Djemoussa Traore, Lassana N’Diaye and Fode Konate scoring the goals.

The result leaves Mali placed second in Group B with three points. Paraguay lead the way with six points, while New Zealand and Turkey are in third and fourth respectively with a point apiece.

A win will guarantee the West Africans a place in the last 16, while a draw may also be enough, depending on the other group result between Paraguay and Turkey.

Mali were much improved from their opening 3-2 defeat to Paraguay, though coach Jonas Komla believes they are still some way short of their best.

"We had worked on both offence and defence as well as our mental aspect as it was important for our players to take on any opposition with confidence," said Komla.

"Our plans did succeed to some extent but we are not the finished product as yet. We have some more work to do."

The Eaglets will miss Abdoyulaye Diaby for the game against New Zealand after his second booking on Monday, but Komla said the team does not depend on any individual player.

"Ours is a team effort and the collective strength of the team is going to be intact. There are others to step into the breach," he said.

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