Mali target quarterfinal berth

Mali target quarterfinal berth
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 Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Oct 16, 2017. 00:00

Mali will target a place in the quarterfinals of the U-17 World Cup when they face Iraq in their last 16 clash at Fatorda Stadium in Margao on Tuesday, kick-off at 16h30 CAT.

The Eaglets booked their place in the second round of the tournament by finishing second in Group behind Paraguay. They lost their opener 3-2 to the South Americans before defeating both Turkey (3-0) and New Zealand (3-1) with relative ease.

Mali coach Jonas Komla says his side will step up a gear now that they are into the knockout rounds of the tournament.

"Our first objective was to qualify into the next stage from the group stage, now that we have achieved that our approach, style will be different in the Round of 16," Komla explained.

"We will look to correct things that did not work for us, in the next stage.”

The West Africans’ opponents will be Iraq, who advanced into the last 16 by finishing second in Group F behind England.

The Middle Eastern side were impressive in holding Mexico 1-1 and beating Chile 3-0 - with Mohammed Dawood establishing himself as the danger man by scoring three goals across the two games - but their 4-0 defeat to England exposed some major weaknesses which Mali will look to exploit.

The winners will advance into the last eight and face either Ghana or Niger in the first quarterfinal on Saturday in Guwaha

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