CAF U23: Why we lost to Nigeria- Mali coach, Mali v Nigeria

Head Coach the Mali U23 side Cheick Oumar Kone believes his side were the better side in their Sunday’s CAF U23 championship opener against Nigeria’s Dream Team VI but were punished because they failed to convert their chances.

Kone’s men staged a scintillating second half display that was not enough to overturn a first half three goal deficit as they suffered a 3-2 defeat in the hands of the West Africans.

A three goal lead at half time put Nigeria on the path of victory only for a spirited second half performance by the Malians saw them reduce the deficit with two quick goals in nine minutes with the equalizer remaining elusive. Kone in his post-match conference said;

“We started very badly, but in the second half we played collectively. We lifted up our game and scored twice.

“We could have equalized but we failed to convert some of the chances. Such is football; you get punished if you fail to take your chances.

“Our next game against Algeria will be equally difficult. They are beatable but we have to avoid mistakes like we did today.” Kone told CAF official website.

France-based striker Adama Niane launched the Malian comeback by converting a penalty, shooting beyond Dream Team goalie Emmanuel Daniel.

Substitute Abdoulaye Diarra scored the second for Mali on 65 minutes with a cool finish from close range capitalising on sloppiness by the Nigerian rear guard.