We knew Mali will be tough, says New Zealand U-17 coach

Sports |  IANS  | Published : Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 08:34 PM

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS)   Dejected after crashing out with the defeat in their third group game, New Zealand U-17 coach Danny Hay said on Thursday that he expected Mali to be the better team.

Mali thumped New Zealand 3-1 in their third and final Group B match here on Thursday to book their tickets to the knock-out stages.

Mali dominated right from the start and the Kiwis struggled to contain their rivals.

The Kiwis will consider themselves lucky not to concede more goals and Hay admitted that his boys came off second best.

"Being the U-17 champions (Mali), one has to look at their history, we knew qualifying against them is going to be extremely difficult," Hay told reporters during the post-match press conference.

"We knew we could not do much but I'm extremely pleased by the way the boys performed," the coach added.

Talking about the future of the New Zealand U-17 players, the coach said: "They will be heading to American universities that will be the best for them. They can also try their luck in Major Soccer League (MLS) from there."

Mali U-17 coach Jonas Komla, on the other hand said his wards are ready to play in the Round of 16 and will approach the knock-out stage differently.

"Our first objective was to qualify into the next stage from the group stage, now that we have achieved that our approach, style will be different in the Round of 16," Komla said.

"We will look to correct things that did not work for us, in the next stage," the Mali coach added.

Talking about his star player, Djemoussa Traore's future, the coach said: "He is at good level, he will be even better with time."

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