Mali's head coach Soumaila Coulibaly has lamented his side's failure to crack the Moroccan defense line as they lost 6-5 to the Atlas Cubs in the semi-final of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Constantine on Sunday.
The game had to be decided on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate in regulation time and despite the disappointment, Coulibaly says they will shift their energy to fight for the bronze medal in the play-off.
"We still have one more match and it is important that we go and try to win a medal. Of course we are disappointed because we wanted to play in the final, but we have to lift ourselves up and focus for this," the coach said.
Looking back at the match, Coulibaly said he couldn't fault his players as they put in a great effort, but were just unlucky not to find the back of the net.
"That is how football is sometimes. We had a lot of chances, but unfortunately, it was not our day and we missed so many chances. Our plan was to score an early goal, but we were not successful in penetrating the Moroccan backline. Congratulations to them for the win," the coach added.
After the tournament, he now says the plan is to prepare the team stronger ahead of the World Cup, where they hope to perform equally well. The tactician says they will continue developing the players over the next few months, even as he hopes most of them will break into the senior national team.