Dark horse Mali lock horns with Paraguay in Under-17 World Cup
Navi Mumbai: African champions Mali would look to start their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign on a winning note when they take on Paraguay in a Group B match on Friday.
Mali are the runners-up side in the last edition of the U-17 World Cup in 2015 and this time they would be aiming to move one step ahead by clinching the title.
In the the 2015 final in Chile, they were beaten by Nigeria 0-2. Mali have a strong squad, with good attack and defence, and they are one of the dark horses who could go all the distance in the U-17 showpiece event.
For Paraguay, this will be their fourth appearance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Their debut, and best result to date, came at New Zealand 1999, where they finished fifth. However, they failed to progress beyond the group stage in their two subsequent appearances, at Trinidad and Tobago 2001 and Chile 2015.
This time, they would want to better their last edition performance and for it Friday's game becomes crucial. Paraguay secured their World Cup berth thanks to their third-placed finish at this year's South American Under-17 Championship.
Both the teams did not have any practice games and will hit the ground on Friday evening under the floodlights at the D Y Patil stadium in Mumbai.