Sunday, November 8, 2015

Big match feature: Nigeria vs Mali U17 WCup final

Sunday’s Fifa Under-17 World Cup final will be unique in more ways than one when English referee Michael Oliver gets proceedings underway at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina Del Mar.
This will be Nigeria’s second successive trip to the final after beating Mexico 3-0 in the final to win the last edition in the United Arab Emirates.
It will also be a second all-Africa final at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup after Nigeria edged out Ghana 1-0 in the final of the 1993 edition in Japan where a Wilson Oruma header put the Starlets to the sword.
Four time champions Nigeria will look to make it a fifth trophy at under-17 level and also a record eight appearances in the final of the competition.
Mali, who are the African champions at this level will hope to make it their first Fifa Under-17 World Cup title in their history.

The two teams are arguably the best two sides at this year’s edition after powering their way to the final with some swashbuckling displays in the last two weeks.
It will be interesting to see how two sides, known for fast attacking football, go at each other in Sunday’s final. If both sides play the way they normally do, then we will be in for an entertaining football regalement.
* Last time an all-African final took place was 22 years ago at Japan 1993. Nigeria beat Ghana to win the trophy
* Nigeria's total goal tally at Chile 2015 is 21 goals leading to the final while Mali have scored 12 goals.
*Top scorer for the Nigeria side is Victor Osimhen with nine goals while Sidiki Maiga leads Mali’s goalscorers with three goals.
*Nigeria has appeared in eight finals of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup while Mali will be making their first ever appearance in the final in only their fourth Fifa Under-17 World Cup.
*The Golden Eaglets have attempted 199 shots at goal and scored 21 goals as against Mali's 132 attempts at goal with 12 goals to boot.
Match background:
Nigeria (below) started the competition with a bang, winning their first two games but then lost to Croatia in the last group game. Despite that loss, the Eaglets topped Group A and were pitted against the Young Joeys of Australia whom they walloped 6-0 in the Round of 16.
Brazil fell 3-0 in the quarter-finals before the entertaining 4-2 win over Mexico set up the clash with Mali’s Les Aiglonettes on Sunday.
Mali started the tournament with a goalless draw against Belgium but followed it up with wins against Ecuador and Honduras to pick a ticket to the Round of 16.
Les Aiglonettes beat Korea DPR 3-0 in that round before edging out Croatia 1-0 in the last eight to set up a rematch with Belgium.
Mali came from a goal down to beat Belgium 3-1 with goals from Boubacar Traore, Sidiki Maiga and Sekou Koita to book a date with reigning champions Nigeria.
Players to watch:
Mali: Aly Malle is the main man in attack for Mali despite Sidiki Maiga scoring a goal more than the 16-year-old attacker
He makes most of the plays for his team and alongside skipper Abdoul Dante, they are the leaders of this Mali side (below) looking to make history.
Nigeria: Samuel Chukwueze has been performing admirably well under the radar as Victor Osimhen kept getting all the plaudits.
The midfielder, who loves to play through the channels, has provided seven assists thus far and scored twice to cement his place as one of starters for Emmanuel Amuneke.
Victor Osimhen will be the man Amuneke will look to for the goals to win Sunday’s game against Mali.
The tall striker has scored in all the matches the Eaglets have played at the tournament, amassing a record-equalling nine goals.
Group stage
United States 0 Nigeria 2
Nigeria 5 Chile 1
Nigeria 1 Croatia 2
Second round
Nigeria 6 Australia 0
Brazil 0 Nigeria 3
Nigeria 4 Mexico 2
Group stage
Belgium 0 Mali 0
Ecuador 1 Mali 2
Mali 3 Honduras 0
Round of 16
Mali 3 Korea DPR 0
Croatia 0 Mali 1
Mali 3 Belgium 1
What they said:
“For the final, I do not care if it’s Mexico or Nigeria. I just want to face a team that we can beat. - Baye Ba, Mali coach
"It was a difficult match in which both teams did their best. We are happy to be in the final and have the chance to defend the world title. Mali is a good team, Africa's champion. This is going to be an interesting challenge." - Emmanuel Amuneke, Nigeria coach