In a high octane Group B clash at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai between Paraguay and Mali, Paraguay emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline. The two teams played out a thorough entertainer which at the end tilted towards the South Americans. Mali had numerous chances to draw and even win the game but were left to rue their luck.
Mali’s manager, Jonas Komla reflected on the hard-fought defeat for his side in the post-match press conference and maintained that the African U-17 champions will bounce back from the loss.
Speaking of his assessment from the game, Komla said, “It was not a perfect start from us. There is plenty of room for improvement but happy with the strong mentality of my players. In my opinion, over-enthusiasm from the players cost us today and we will look to work on that aspect in the next two games.”
Mali were pegged down by two quick goals in the first quarter of the game but showed great fight to mount a comeback. Komla was hopeful about his team’s chances to qualify for the knockout stages and cited the example of this year’s AFCON U-17.
He said, “We started on a similar path in the AFCON but went on to win the competition. There was pressure on us back then and it is the same pressure today. We will take it positively and try to win our remaining games.”
Mali, along with being the champions of Africa, are the runners-up of the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Hence, a defeat to start their campaign may come as a shock to many. Mali went to UAE for a conditioning tour before coming to India but the climate in Mumbai was the exact opposite.
It was raining heavily at the stadium and when asked about whether the climate played a part in his side’s defeat, Komla said, “The defeat has nothing to do with the weather. Tonight’s conditions were similar to the climate back home. We made a lot of mistakes which is why we are on the losing side.”
Tipped by many to top their group, Mali will have to win both their games to have a chance of becoming the winners of Group B.