FIFA U17 World Cup: Ghost goal controversy blights second semifinal as Spain beat Mali
Spain reached their fourth final of the FIFA U17 World Cup after overcoming the Malian challenge 3-1 at the DY Patil Stadium. Abel Ruiz scored a brace and was the star of the match to set up a mouth-watering final clash against England. Mali gave their all in the hard-fought semifinal and the biggest issue which surrounded the entire game was a denied goal to Mali in the second half. Oumar Doucoure's shot from 25 yards out had crossed the line but was adjudged as a no-goal.
Both the managers talked about the issue in their post-match conferences and had entirely different viewpoints. Jonas Komla, the Mali coach, was visibly distraught by the disallowed goal but gave diplomatic answers about the incident. "I don't have any comments to make about the referee. This is football but we lacked luck tonight," Komla said.
Meanwhile, Santiago Denia - the Spain boss - recommended FIFA not to show replays of the incident happened on the big screen. He said, "The Spain federation respects the job done by the referee - it is not an easy job. But I think the replays should not be shown on the big screen, it might influence the decision of the referee and also the crowd reaction from it can also bring out a decision from the referee."
The replays on the big screen brought in a strong reaction from the Mali bench in which a member of the coaching staff was also given a yellow card for dissent. The match as well was as feisty as the reaction of the Malian bench. End to end stuff was seen at times but the clinical manner shown by Spain set them apart from the 2015 World Cup finalists.
Spain's camp was happy with the performance levels shown by the squad with their manager replicating that thought in his assessment of the game. Santiago said, "Mali did their homework and man-marked us. We had to go direct at times and use Abel Ruiz by playing him on the shoulder of their last defender." Mali tried one too many dribbles by their forwards whereas the adaptability shown by this Spanish side to play possession football as well as the transition game has put them in the finals of the tournament.
An interesting open semifinal saw Spain boss reflecting at his side's defensive issues in the press conference while the Malian coach was proud of the effort put in by the boys. Komla expressed, "From being one of the 24 teams in the World Cup to be in the best four sides in the world is a big achievement. This experience will be huge for the boys."
Mali will now face Brazil for a third-place finish and to finish the event on a sweet note whereas Spain will now get ready for a rematch of this year's Euro U17 final against England now in the FIFA U17 World Cup grand finale in three days.