16 February 2019 02:44
Mali will take on unbeaten Senegal on Sunday in the final of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niamey as both side seek for their first U-20 continental glory.
The highly anticipated clash at the Stade General Seyni Kountche will be a repeat of the opening Group B match which Senegal won 2-0 in Maradi.
Midfielders Dion Lopy and Faly Ndaw scored in the second half to secure Les Lionceaux their first victory of the championship.
Youssouph Dabo’s charges followed that up with another 2-0 victory over 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup champions Ghana to book their place at this year’s U-20s World Cup in Poland.
The confident young lions thrashed Burkina Faso 5-1 before managing a 1-0 semifinal victory over Thabo Senong’s South Africa en route to Sunday’s final.
The Aiglons of Mali despite losing to Senegal in the opening match of Group B in Maradi registered back-to- back 1-0 successes over Burkina Faso and Ghana to qualify for the semifinals.
They had to do it the hard way when facing Nigeria’s Flying Eagles in the last four in Niamey.
Mamadou Traore gave Mali the lead twelve minutes from time but Paschal Durugbor draw level for Nigeria forcing the match to extra time and penalties.
Nigeria missed two spot kicks as Mali converted four of their five kicks to sail through with a 4-3 score line.
Senegal's coach Youssouph Dabo says the final will not be a repeat of the group encounter which his side won 2-0.
“Facing Mali will be a different match because it is a final. We have beaten them in the first game but I said it after that game that they can go far so I am not surprised to see them in the final,” he insisted.
Mali’s coach Mamoutou Kane admits his side where lucky against Nigeria in the semifinals which he said was exhausting.
"It was a very exhausting match in the head and in the belly. Luck was with us so congratulations and courage to the Nigerian coach.
“For us the goal is achieved we were the first team to have lost and we are today the first to qualify for the final.” Kane told journalist after qualifying for the final.
The two teams will be searching for their first Africa U-20 Cup of Nations triumph with Senegal finishing second in the last two editions.
They narrowly lost to Nigeria 1-0 in 2015 on home soil before going down 2-0 to Zambia in 2017.