AFCON U-20: Mali Emerge As New Champions
After beating Nigeria’s Flying via penalty shootouts in the semifinal, the Junior Eagles of Mali have emerged as champions of Africa in the U-20 category after they also beat Senegal 3-2 on penalties in Sunday’s final.
The Aiglons held their nerves in the pulsating shootouts to hand Senegal their third successive defeat in the final after losing 1-0 at home to Nigeria in 2015 and 2-0 to Zambia two years ago in Lusaka.
Mamoutou Kane's charges started the better opening the score at Stade General Seyni Kountche after fifteen minutes when Boubacar Traore hammered home Hadji Drame's delivery to send strong Malian supporters into wild celebrations.
Traore’s well taken goal was the first time Senegal had conceded the first goal in the tournament.
The Aiglons missed several opportunities to extend their lead and Senegal found their way back into the game with the introductions of Ousseynou Niang and Amadou Ndiaye adding more sharpness in attack.
The duo combined to level the score on seventy-five minutes.
Mamoutou Kané ,the Head Coach for Mali admitted that his team was lucky but was quick to add that they would reinforce for the World Cup in Poland.
"We were lucky and cannot say what worked for us and was not for the other but this is also part of football.”
“We will savor this victory and take some strength before preparing for the World Cup. I played the final with the U-20 of Mali as goalkeeper thirty years ago (note: it was in 1989) and today I win the trophy as a coach. I say congratulations to the players.”
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