U-17 World Cup: Argentina misses out on bronze after 3-0 loss to Mali 

‘This shouldn't ruin what they did in this tournament,’ says coach Diego Placente

Argentina’s U-17 men’s football team lost 3-0 to Mali and finished the FIFA U-17 World Cup fourth. The Albiceleste had lost against Germany in the semifinals and was going up for its fourth bronze medal in competition history.

From the start, Mali showcased a physical superiority against an Argentina team that looked as if it was still reeling from its defeat in the semis. Much like in its debut against Senegal, the Albiceleste suffered from the African team’s intensity and pressing.

Mali took the lead early on. Eight minutes into the game, Ibrahim Diarra controlled the ball on the edge of the area and slotted a shot to the bottom right.

Les Aigles kept pushing, creating several chances against an Argentina team that struggled to display the playing style it had previously shown. A shot to the post and a number of good saves by Argentine goalkeeper Jeremías Florentin kept the Albiceleste in the game.

However, in the 44th minute, Hamidou Makalou placed a cross from a free kick that found Mamadou Doumbia, who headed it in to make it 2-0.

Argentina looked to react in the second half, with hat-trick hero against Brazil Claudio Echeverri coming in. Still, it was Mali who once again found the back of the net, as Makalou scored one of the best goals of the tournament, passing two defenders and the goalkeeper to seal the game at 3-0.

The Albiceleste improved in the second half but were far from overcoming the result, finishing in fourth place, a result it had already achieved in 2001 and 2013.

“It wasn’t the result we were after,” Florentín said after the game. “However, I’m proud of this team; we gave it our all until the end. They play a very physical game. We never gave up our playing style, but they had us beat at that.”

Floretín suffered verbal abuse on his social media accounts following the defeat against Germany, which forced him to shut down comments. However, he looked confident. “I’m feeling good. I have good people around who always support me, and I’m proud of being part of this team. It was a unique experience, full of learning, so I’m happy.”

Head coach Diego Placente agreed. “[Mali] was a good team, very strong physically. They had many scoring chances in every game, and they were better than us physically and mentally.”

“These players did something incredible, both footballistically and with their commitment,” said Placente. “Today was a very difficult game, but that shouldn’t ruin what they did in this tournament.”


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