France and Germany beat Mali and Argentina to qualify for U-17 World Cup final in Jakarta

November 28 – France or Germany will win the U-17 World Cup after they eliminated Mali and Argentina in the semi-finals of the tournament. The match will be a repeat of the U-17 European Championship final last June. 

There was unconfined joy for Germany at the end of a dramatic six-goal semi-final against Argentina, who had eliminated defending champions Brazil in the last eight.

Paris Brenner and reserve goalkeeper Konstantine Heide proved to be the heroes for the European side. Dortmund’s Brenner delivered again. He had provided the decisive goal in the quarter-finals against Spain and against Argentina he stepped up to convert the winning penalty to add to his brace in regular time.

Heide, who replaced first-choice goalkeeper Max Schmitt, saved two penalties in the shootout.

Germany led Argentina 3-2 until the dying minutes of the match when Agustin Ruberto scored his third to complete his hat-trick and take the match to penalties. It’s the sixth time that Argentina have crashed out in the last four at the U-17 World Cup.

For Germany, the victory marks their return to the U-17 World Cup final for the first time since 1985 and they will face a familiar opponent, France.

The French ground their way to victory against ten-man Mali. The Africans did what no other side had done in the tournament – score against France – but Souleymane Sanogo’s 55th-minute sending-off would prove the turning point of the match.

From the ensuing free-kick Yvan Titi equalised and in the 69th minute, Ismail Bouneb struck from a set piece again.

Mali skipper Ibrahim Diarra broke France’s defensive resilience on the stroke of half-time when he pounced after a poor clearance by goalkeeper Antoine Argney. It was Diarra’s fourth of the competition. After the pause, Mali’s blistering pace kept troubling the French defense and even with a man down they pushed forward with midfielder Hamadou Makalou, one of the outstanding players of the tournament, hitting the woodwork from a freekick.

Mali and Argentina meet on Friday in the third-place playoff. Germany and France bring the tournament to a close on Saturday with the final in Jakarta, the second time the pair have faced off in a matter of months in a major final. At the U-17 European Championship in Hungary, Germany prevailed 5-4 in the penalty shootout after a goalless draw.

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