LIBREVILLE, GABON, History was created at the 2017 Total Under-17 African Cup of Nations football tournament in Gabon when Mali became the first country to retain the title following a 1-0 win against the Black Starlets of Ghana.
In the final played at the Stade d'Angondje here Sunday, Seme Camara scored the only goal through a spot kick in a hotly contested match. It was the first time a defending champion successfully secured the title and the Aiglonnets joined the ranks of countries like Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia which have won the title twice since the championship was launched in 1995.
As widely predicted by the coaches, the match had all the trappings of a cup final and it started off in an attacking mood in front of an enthusiastic crowd. It was Mali which constantly troubled Ghana for much of the early minutes of play with the strike pair of Seme Camara and Hadji Drame tormenting the Ghanaian defence.
In an attacking raid, Ghana conceded the penalty and Mamadou Samake was twice lucky as he followed up the rebound to give Mali the lead in the 20th minute.
Some ten minutes after, the Black Starlets conceded yet another foul in the box but goalkeeper Danlad Ibrahim punched the ball away in the ensuing penalty to keep the Black Starlets in the game.
Ghana came strongly towards the end of the first half and were unlucky not to get an equaliser after Eric Ayiah, with only the goalkeeper to beat, tamely shot at the body of Youssouf Koita and the lurking Malian defender cleared away to keep the score line at 1-0.
Thereafter, the game see-sawed but Mali have the duo of captain Mohammed Camara and Mamadi Fofana to thank as they stoutly defended their area right to the very end.
As African champions, Mali will lead the continent's quartet, which includes Ghana, Guinea and Niger, to the forthcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup to be hosted in India in October.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK