After an intense showdown in Indonesia on Tuesday, the French Under-17 football team has secured a spot in the World Cup final, prevailing over Mali with a 2-1 victory. France's path to the final was anything but easy, as they had to bounce back after Mali's captain, Ibrahim Diarra, netted the first goal during injury time in the first half. This marked the first goal conceded by France in the tournament, shaking their previously spotless record.
Turning the Tables
France regained its footing in the 56th minute, when Yvann Titi of Troyes scored an equalizing goal with a well-placed header. However, France's celebration was short-lived as Titi had to be substituted due to an injury soon after. The game took a significant turn when Mali's Souleymane Sanogo received a red card, reducing the team to 10 men and opening the door for France to take control of the match.
The Deciding Moment
The decisive goal that propelled France to victory came in the 69th minute, when Ismail Bouneb of Valenciennes fired a successful free-kick into the net. This wasn't Bouneb's first crucial contribution to the team's journey; he had previously emerged as the hero in the quarter-finals by scoring the decisive goal against Uzbekistan.
The Final Obstacle
As the match approached its end, France's goalkeeper, Paul Argney of Le Havre, proved instrumental in preserving the team's lead. His expert deflection of a free-kick onto the bar in the 89th minute kept Mali's hopes of equalizing at bay, effectively securing France's victory.
This victory sets the stage for a thrilling final match against Germany, a team that has yet to claim the Under-17 World Cup title. Nevertheless, Germany has proven to be a formidable opponent, having defeated France in the European Championship final earlier this year on penalties following a goalless draw. As the final match scheduled to take place on Saturday in the Javan city of Surakarta approaches, the world eagerly awaits to see who will emerge as the Under-17 World Cup champions.