Mali beat Senegal 3-2 on penalties to claim their maiden Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations title following a 1-1 stalemate after extra time in Niamey.
The Aiglons held their nerves in the pulsating shootouts to hand Senegal their third successive defeat in the final after losing 1-0 at home to Nigeria in 2015 and 2-0 to Zambia two years ago in Lusaka.
Mamoutou Kane’s charges started the better opening the score at Stade General Seyni Kountche after fifteen minutes when Boubacar Traore hammered home Hadji Drame’s delivery to send strong Malian supporters into wild celebrations.
Traore’s well taken goal was the first time Senegal had conceded the first goal in the tournament.
The Aiglons missed a glories opportunity to extend their lead on 24 minutes Sekou Koita was played through in the box but his weak effort was parried away by Ndiaye.
Hadji Drame showed his slicked movements in the Senegalese half two minutes later when he combined with El Bilal but could only hit the side netting.
Senegal’s Les Lionceaux returned from the break with much determination to get back into level terms with the introductions of Ousseynou Niang and Amadou Ndiaye adding more sharpness in attack.
The duo combined to level the score on seventy-five minutes when Niang bust through the left to deliver a cross which was turned towards goal by Ibrahima Drame but the keeper fumbled it to Ndiaye’s path and the FC Metz wonder kid volleyed in the equalizer with a stylish overhead kick.
The two sides cancelled each other in the remaining minutes and extra time to force the much talked about final to penalties.
Senegal’s Dion Lopy, Amadou Ndiaye and Ousseynou Niang were the unfortunate players to miss from the spot, giving Mali their first Under-20 title.
Senegal swept home the individual accolades after the final with defender Moussa Ndiaye named the Player of the tournament and Amadou Ndiaye bagging the leading goal scorer’s award.
Les Lionceaux were also awarded the Fair Play Award plus having four members, Moussa Ndiaye, Dion Lopy, Ibrahima Drame and Youssouph Badji in the team of the tournament which is coached by Youssouph Dabo.
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT – Moussa Ndiaye
LEADING GOAL SCORER – Amadou Ndiaye (Senegal)
FAIR PLAY AWARD – Senegal
POST MATCH REACTIONS
Youssouph Dabo (Head Coach, Senegal)
“Both teams went into the game knowing it is the final which was not going to be easy and you had to be tough in the head.”
“Many people wondered how we (Senegal) would react the day we concede the first time in this tournament but we showed a lot of personality, character and I am proud of my players who represented Senegal.”
“Throughout this tournament I think my team showed some positive things and we gave everything we needed to do in this final.”
“When we beat Mali in the first match I said it’s a team that can go all the way.”
Mamoutou Kané (Head Coach, Mali)
“We were lucky and cannot say what worked for us and was not for the other but this is also part of football.”
“Senegal won its first four games by fighting in the first game and in return we won our last four games including the one against the same opponent.”
“We will savor this victory and take some strength before preparing for the World Cup. I played the final with the U-20 of Mali as goalkeeper thirty years ago (note: it was in 1989) and today I win the trophy as a coach. I say congratulations to the players.”