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FIFA U17 World Cup: It is clear that we are not fit enough, says Turkey coach post crushing loss to Mali

The coach also explained why his players are unfit.


Action from the Mali Turkey game in Navi Mumbai
Action from the Mali Turkey game in Navi Mumbai

Post their disappointing loss to Paraguay on the opening day, Mali bounced back in style, thumping Turkey 3-0 in Monday's FIFA U17 World Cup encounter. Midfielder Djemoussa Traore opened the scoring, coolly slotting home past the Turkey's keeper in the 38th minute.

The Eagles created multiple openings throughout the game and were duly rewarded for their efforts. Lassana Ndiaye's second and Fode Konate's spectacular third put Turkey to the sword.

The Crescent Stars struggled to keep up with Mali's quick tempo and were made to suffer for large parts of the match. Coach, Mehmet Hacioglu reckons the physical disparity between both the sides was the reason for such a damaging loss.

"Before the tournament, my biggest worry was the physical differences and today we saw it. Plus, our youth league started a bit late compared to the other countries. That is why we lost by such a huge margin today," he said.

Mali's player outworked and outran their counterparts who found it arduous to cover the ground.

While both teams started on equal footing, Mali's superiority came to the fore as the game progressed. Mehmet believes that their opponents were clearly the fitter side and it was evident in the second half.

"It is very clear, we are not fit enough and it affected the result. Our biggest strength is technique but we were not physical enough, which meant we also lost our technical capabilities. In both the games, the way we played in the first half and second half was completely different," he explained.

After two rounds of matches, Turkey like at the bottom of Group B with one point. Add to that, their goal difference took a massive beating tonight.

The coach isn't too hopeful of qualifying for the round of 16 based on tonight's performance. He suggested that his players are not in the best physical shape as desired.

"We have a possibility to qualify for the next round by being among the best third-ranked teams. But based on our current strength and fitness, we can say that our objective will be very difficult to achieve," he said.

Despite going down in the first half, Turkey continued to play their brand of open football without tweaking their tactics, which enabled Mali to pile on the misery. But Mehmet is a strong proponent of free-flowing football and suggested that he will not deviate from his current style.

"We were aware of their pressing style. But I always ask my teams to play positively. We can play much more defensively, play long balls and counter-attack but our mentality is to always attack and pass the ball," he signed off.

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