Iraq coach: Mali looked like an U-23 team

Iraq coach: Mali looked like an U-23 team
Mohamed Camara (L) and Abdulaye Diaby (2-R) of Mali during the FIFA Under-17 World Cup

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Oct 19, 2017. 14:00

Iraq coach Qahtan Al-Rubaye has stopped just short of accusing Mali of age cheating at the ongoing U-17 World Cup in India.

The Asian U-17 champions were given a 5-1 thrashing by their African counterparts Mali when the teams in a last 16 clash in Margao on Tuesday.

The Young Eagles enjoyed a speed and size advantage over the Iraqis, with Hadji Drame, Lassana N’Diaye, Fode Konate and Seme Camara sharing the five goals between them.

“They sometimes look like they are an U-23 team and not in the same category as us (U-17),” said Al-Rubaye in the aftermath of the match.

“It’s quite visible in the way they play, the way they shoot and their abilities, like speed and physicality.

“It's unfair sometimes because there is a big difference between African teams and others.”

African sides have been guilty of age cheating in junior tournaments in the past. The U-17 World Cup winners in 2015, Nigeria last year had half their squad at the age group ruled ineligible for an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening.

Yet Mali coach Jonas Komla shrugged off any insinuations that his side may be fielding overage players.

''In football, it is important to accept the results. In a tournament of this stature, there are clear rules and testing for every player is performed before the World Cup. We have passed all the required tests and guidelines, so you have to accept it,” said Komla.



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