The second day of action at the going FIFA U20 World Cup brought mix fortunes for Africa as Mali recorded the first win for the continent while Senegal recorded the first defeat.
At the Dunedin’s Otago Stadium, Mali recorded a dramatic 2-0 win over Mexico which has seen them take an early lead in Group D.
The Mali/Mexico contest was virtually won and lost in a crazy second-half in which three players – one Malian, two Mexican – were sent off before two goals in three minutes decided the outcome.
Mali took full advantage of their numerical advantage, moving into the lead with 14 minutes remaining when Adama Traore headed home from Youssouf Kone’s inviting free-kick.
The points were sealed three minutes later when Dieudonne Gbakle scored a cracker, working a one-two with Alassane Diallo, swerving past a couple of despairing challenges and shooting low just inside the far post.
Though the other Group D game saw Uruguay defeat Serbia 1-0 , Mali are ahead with a better goals difference.
Mali Coach, Fanyeri Diarra, was expectedly thrilled with the outcome as he admitted that the result has taken a big chunk of pressure off his team.
“In a tournament like this one, the first match is vital. Leaving here with three points means the lads will be under much less pressure going into our second game, on Wednesday against Serbia,” He said.
It was however a sour maiden outing for Senegal as they were overpowered by Portugal who pummelled them 3-0.
Portugal danger man, Martins, fired the fourth-quickest goal in the tournament’s history, netting in 26 seconds, before a late flurry saw substitute Nuno Santos set up Andre Silva, then add another of his own.
Nigeria is the last African team waiting to taste action and they will be up against five-time champions Brazil. The match will be played at 2:00 a.m. Nigerian time on Monday.