Ghana suffered quarter-final heartbreak in the FIFA U-17 World Cup as they were beaten 2-1 by African champions Mali in Guwahati on Saturday. The defeat will represent a devastating failure for the Black Starlets, who had targeted the trophy as their sole aim from the tournament.
The win for Mali follows victory over Ghana in this year’s CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations final and moves them into a last-four meeting with either Iran or Spain in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
In very wet weather at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, both sides did well to play through the conditions, with Mali dominating to opening half. The Eaglets took the lead on the quarter-hour mark, as Hadji Drame broke in on the Ghanaian goal before putting his shot past Black Starlets goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim for his third goal of the tournament.
Ghana then had the ball in the opposite net just before half-time, but Ibrahim Sulley’s effort was disallowed for a foul by team-mate Kudus Mohammed in the build-up to the opportunity.
Just after the hour mark, Mali scored their winner through Djemoussa Traore. He beat the back-tracking Danlad Ibrahim with a long-range effort after the Ghana goalkeeper misjudged his rush off his goalline to make an attempted clearance outside his box.
With 20 minutes to go, Ghana halved the deficit through a Mohammed penalty after substitute Sadiq Ibrahim was fouled in the Mali box, but in the end, the Eagles held on to secure a second appearance in the last four at a U-17 World Cup in as many tournaments. Their only disappointment is a suspension to Mali captain Mohamed Camara for the semi-finals through the accumulation of yellow cards.