It was dominance on a level-playing rain-soaked pitch by the African champions as Mali beat Ghana 2-1 to make it to the semi-final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The match was played on Saturday at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati, India.
Before the all-Africa clash, the Malians had beaten the Ghanaians on two occasions – one in the Africa U-17 final and the other in a preparatory game ahead of the world cup.
A slip in midfield by the two-time champions after a quarter-of-an-hour played in Saturday’s game gave an advantage to Mali’s Hadji Drame.
He made no mistake by finding the near post of goalkeeper Ibrahim Danladi to increase his goal tally to three in the tournament.
Though Ghana found the back of the net before the break through Ibrahim Sulley, Algerian referee Mehdi Abid Charef ruled it offside for a foul on Mali’s Abdoulaye Diaby.
It was cagey between that period and the second goal in the 61st minute, when a moment of indecision by Danladi found him clearing off-target to gift Djemoussa Traore the ball.
Traore’s hit into the goal was poorly parried by a rushing-back Danladi for the second goal of the game.
Coach Paa Kwesi Fabin’s substitutions in the second half, however, gave a boon to Ghana’s play despite the nature of the pitch.
Sadiq Ibrahim won what seemed to be a soft penalty in the 70th minute and Kudus Mohammed converted to half the deficit.
But it was too little too late as the 2015 finalists marched into the last four.
Coach Fabin appeared to have got everything right but not that disallowed goal.
“Everything went right,” he told FIFA TV in the touchline post-match interview. “We scored a perfect goal and it was disallowed.”
“Officiating went bad,” he fumed. “That is what I will say.”
Ghana go out with three wins and two losses after a 10-year absence while Mali go through to play the winner of the Spain-Iran quarter-final clash in Mumbai on Wednesday.
By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana