Mali vs Nigeria – Golden Eaglets, the defending champion, against the Malian side, which made history on March 1, in Niamey, Niger, by being crowned African champions for the first time.
The Fifa U-17 World Cup 2015 Final Match Between Mali Vs Nigeria starts at 19:00 Vina Del Mar local time – Chile
Two teams from the same confederation will go toe-to-toe in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time in 22 years and ten editions of the tournament, after CAF sides Ghana and Nigeria met in the final back in 1993. The Golden Eaglets secured the second of their four World Cup crowns with a 2-1 victory that day.
“It’s very important for African football and incredible that something like this has only happened once before,”
said Nigeria’s Orji Okonkwo in eager anticipation of this continental showdown, where the record champions could become the second team to defend their title on Sunday evening after Brazil triumphed in 1997 and 1999.
Although the Nigerians have ample experience of these showdowns, Sunday night’s game will mark the first time a Malian side has reached the final of any FIFA tournament. After the country’s third-place finish at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand a few months ago, coach Baye Ba’s squad have gone one step further in Chile. “Let me tell you straight: you build up an appetite by eating,” he explained before the last four. Mali’s passage to the final has surely increased this hunger even further.
While Nigeria hold a clear lead in the head-to-head record between the two nations’ senior sides with four wins, three draws and just one defeat to their name, Mali have the edge when it comes to youth football. When hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999, the Golden Eaglets were forced to throw in the towel in the quarter-finals as Les Aiglons Nets beat them 3-1.
Both Nigeria and Mali sure deserve to be where they are at the moment and either of the two teams is good enough to take home the trophy, although some may argue that the free-scoring Eaglets deserve the top prize more.
Pride for Africa
On Sunday, the two West African sides will clash at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar in what is only the second -ever All-African final, since Nigeria and Ghana clashed in Japan 22 years ago, with the Eaglets winning 2-1.
Both Nigeria and Mali have flown the continent’s flag with pride en route to Sunday’s final and Amuneke said it would be a great day for African football yet again in Vina del Mar.
“African football has developed over the years and playing against Mali in the final of Chile 2015 shows that Africa is strong at this level,” Amuneke noted at the post match conference in Concepción after Golden Eaglets’ 4-2 win over Mexico.
The Golden Eaglets had in the run-up enjoyed favourable results at Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar where they crushed Chile 5-1 in their second group phase match, annihilated Australia 6-0 in the second round and battered Brazil 3-0 in the quarter final.
“On Sunday, we would give a good account of ourselves in Vina del Mar which has been a good venue for us,” the former Barcelona winger explained.” The fans all over Chile have been friendly but we have a special feeling playing in Vina del Mar where we have many fans.”
Hopes and Expectations
Going into Sunday’s final between Mali vs Nigeria, expectations are high to say the least, as everyone that matters in football in the country has charged the Eaglets to complete the good work they started by winning their fifth U17 World Cup in Chile.
The NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Felix Anyansi-Agwu, are some of the personalities that have charged the Eaglets to get the job done against their West African foes.
With four wins (1985, 1993, 2007 and 2013), Nigeria has the highest record of triumphs in the global cadet championship. Victory over Mali in a sumptuous all-African final in Chile’s tourist destination, Vina del Mar, will take Nigeria’s wins to five, followed by Brazil with three.