For the second time in Under-17 World Cup history, the final will be an all-African affair. Nigeria and Mali will battle for the title on Sunday 8th November; 22 years after Nigeria and Ghana were the first pair from the continent to make it to the same decider.
On that occasion, Nigeria won 2-1 to claim the first of their record three titles. The Golden Eaglets are Africa’s most successful team in this competition and this will be their eighth final. By comparison, this is Mali’s first time in the final of any global age-group event, though that does not make them strangers to success.
Mali won the African Under-17 championship in March and managed to avoid Nigeria on the way. The countries were on the opposite sides of the draw and after Nigeria lost to South Africa in the semifinals, Mali beat Guinea. They did not have a chance to size each other up.
However, on the evidence of the Under-17 World Cup, they appear fairly evenly matched going into Sunday’s final. Both came from behind to win their semi finals. Nigeria had to do it twice against a spirited Mexican side to win 4-2 and both made sure they kept attacking after taking the lead, which should make for a frenzied final.
Courtesy of ESPN.COM