4 February 2019

Africa: Senegal Left It Late to Down Mali

Senegal scored two late goals to edge their West African neighbors Mali 2-0 in the opening Group B match of the Total Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Maradi.

The match which was billed as the clash of two heavyweights never disappointed the fans that came out to fill the Stade de Maradi.

Midfield enforcer Dion Lopy opened the score with a well taken strike outside the area on 72 minutes following Ibrahim Drame's cut back from the left set him up.

Faly Ndaw increased the Junior Teranga Lion's advantage on 90 minutes with a neat close range effort to make sure they ease past the spirited Malians.

Mali had more of the ball but failed to find the target as the Senegalese defense foiled all their attempts.

El Bilal Toure came close for Mali in the second minute when he latched on to Sekou Koita's through ball only to see his fierce effort parried away but Ndiaye.

Ndiaye produced another find one hand save from Ousmane Diakite's curled strike as the young eagles of Mali take control in the early stages.

Senegal returned the favor on the half hour mark with a counter when full back Formose Mendy was played through by Lopy but the 18-year old couldn't connect to Youssouph Badji in the area.

Mali continued to press for the opener but goalkeeper Ndiaye was in excellent form for Youssouph Dabo's side as he pulled great saves from Hadji Drame and Captain Mohamed Camara.

Lopy broke the deadlock against the run of play firing in Drame's cross past the keeper before Faly Ndaw secured the points with a stylish finish on the stroke of full time.

The victory sends Senegal at the top of Group B ahead of Monday's encounter between Burkina Faso and Ghana.

POST MATCH REACTIONS

YOUSSOUPH DABO (HEAD COACH, SENEGAL)

"We made a very good introduction against a good team."

"The two teams know each other very well because it is the third time we're meeting in less than a year."

"For our part for the rest of the tournament our ambition remains the same which is to qualify first in the semifinals. Then it will be cup matches (knockout), we will approach them in another way."

MAHAMOUTOU KANE (HEAD COACH, MALI)

"I think that overall it was a good match. We did everything to score and try to put Senegal in trouble but that never happen."

"We managed to block them because it is a team I know well. In the second half they were stronger than us and they had fresher legs."

"That's what made the difference. I congratulate Senegal. We will continue to work to win the last two games and pass the first round because our goal remains the same which is to qualify in the semifinals."

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