|U-17 Coach Lamin Sambou|
Champions Gambia revived hopes of progression as Sarr Yuspha Dawda’s 34th minute header settled a difficult match on a rain-sodden Umuganda stadium pitch at the ongoing ninth Africa U17 championship in Gisenyi. The result marks the end of the road for the Malians who have no point after the second round of games in group B.
Mali is bottom of Group B following their opening group match loss to Cote D’Ivoire and now the defeat against Gambia. Leading the pack is Congo with four points and a superior goal difference to that of the Young Elephants who also have four points.
Sarr headed home from a corner after the Mali defence could not clear their lines as the ball ricocheted off the cross-bar from a well placed corner kick. But for the goalkeeping heroics of Dia Harouna, The Gambia could have netted more. Chance after chance, Harouna denied the menacing scorpion stings to keep the score line narrow.
A heavy downpour failed to dampen the spirits of the defending champions who needed all three points to be sure of a fighting chance in the last round of group games on Saturday. Mali struggled to create clear chances and could not utilise the few that came their way; including late in the match when Diarisso Sadio only had goalkeeper Ceesay Baka and a cluster of his team mates waiting to tap simply. Sadio went for glory and was thwarted by the advancing Baka.
The Baby Scorpions must now sting the Young Elephants to qualify to the semi-finals of the African championship; an achievement which comes with a spot at the next FIFA U17 World championships to be hosted by Mexico later this year.