Mali came from behind to defeat Saudi Arabia 4-3 at the Gdynia Stadium on Tuesday night in one of the most entertaining games to date at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup Poland 2019.
This match-up of continental champions lived up to its billing, tilting back and forth several times. Saudi Arabia built a two-goal lead after just 20 minutes thanks to Feras Albrikan running loose behind the Mali defence and Hassan Altambakti converting a penalty.
Saudi Arabia would gift a goal back before the half, however, as goalkeeper Abdulrahman Alshammari’s attempt to play the ball to a teammate was intercepted by Sekou Koita, who fired into an empty net.
Mali entered the second half reinvigorated, leveling the game in the 54th minute through Ibrahima Kone. It was only nine minutes later that Saudi Arabia regained the lead through Khalid Alghannam, whose cute lob struck in full stride from 25 yards out caught goalkeeper Youssouf Koita off guard.
Still, Mali were unfazed. First Boubacar Traore tied the match once more via a rocket from the right-hand side. Then came the 90th-minute winner courtesy of Mohamed Camara, followed by unbridled joy from the African champions.
Koita’s curling cross found Camara at full pace, giving Mali four points from two games and a great chance of advancing to the knockout stages.
For South Africa, they have no option but to focus on victory over Portugal in their final pool match after suffering a second successive defeat against South Korea on Tuesday night.
Amajita lost 1-0 to the Asian side after they could not capitalise on a strong first half performance in which they created numerous chances to score.
“We are looking forward to the last game in our group against Portugal. We have to plan better, it is also important to work hard and approach the game professionally with the aim of taking three points. But it won’t be easy,” coach Thabo Senong said.