Reigning African Under-20 champions, Mali, came from behind twice to claim the final quarter-final spot at the on-going FIFA Under-20 World Youth Championship in Poland.
The Malians had to rely on their guts as continental kings to beat Argentina 5-4 on penalties after score was tied 2-2 at end of extra time.
The Tuesday night cracker at the Bielsko-Biala Stadium saw Sambou Sissoko struck the winning penalty for Mali, while Youssouf Koita’s save from Tomas Chancalay’s spot-kick spoiled the party for the South Americans.
After a goalless first half, Adolfo Gaich capitalised on an errant clearance by Clement Kanoute in the penalty area to open the scoring in the 49th minute.
Mali evened out matters after 67 minutes when Abdoulaye Diaby out-jumped his marker to head home a corner at the far post.
The scores were level at 1-1 at the end of the regulation 90 minutes, but Ezequiel Barco influenced the go-ahead goal for Argentina less than 30 seconds into the first period of extra time.
Francisco Ortega picked him out in space and Barco’s powerful first-time shot from 12 yards deflected off Diaby and into the net.
But Mali caught Argentina sleeping at a set-piece right at the end to force a shoot-out.
Sekou Koita rolled the ball forward to Boubacar Konte, who aimed low toward the far post to beat Manuel Roffo.
The Malians scored all five of their penalties to knock the six-time Under-20 World Cup champions out of the tournament.
With the victory, the Malians joined Senegal that defeated Nigeria’s Flying Eagles in their last 16 clash as the remaining two African representatives in this year’s tournament
ALL THE ROUND OF 16 PAIRINGS/RESULTS
SUNDAY – JUNE 2
Italy 1 vs Poland 0 (AET) – Gdynia
Colombia 1 (5) vs New Zealand 1 (4) pen – Lodz
MONDAY – JUNE 3
Uruguay 1 vs Ecuador 3 – Lublin
Ukraine 4 vs Panama 1 – Tychy
Senegal 2 vs Nigeria 0 – Lodz
TUESDAY – JUNE 4
Japan 0 vs Korea Republic 1 – Lublin
France 2 vs USA 3 – Bydgoszcz
Argentina 2 (4) vs Mali 2 (5) – Bielsko-Biala