Mali, Senegal lead African charge

2015-06-14 14:09
(File, Shutterstock)

Wellington - African countries captured two semifinal places at the Under-20 World Cup on Sunday as Mali and Senegal kept up their surprising run in the tournament.

Mali pulled off its biggest upset yet by beating European champion Germany 4-3 on penalties while Senegal beat Uzbekistan 1-0 for the only regulation-time win in Sunday's quarterfinals, three of which were decided in shootouts.

Failed to progress

Serbia and the United States traded 18 penalties before Serbia emerged 6-5 winner of a match which had been locked 0-0 after extra time.

And five-time champion Brazil was taken to penalties for the second match in a row before beating Portugal 3-1 following another 0-0 draw.

Serbia will play Mali and Brazil will play Senegal in Wednesday's semifinals.

Brazil is the last of football's superpowers remaining in the tournament. South American champion Argentina failed to progress from group play along with Central America's champion Mexico.

Former champion Ghana and front-runner Nigeria both fell in the round of 16, which also claimed 2013 finalist Uruguay.

While Brazil and Serbia qualified for the last 16 at the top of their groups, Mali and Senegal needed tiebreakers after both won one and drew one of their three group matches.

Brazil has found goal-scoring increasingly difficult as the tournament has progressed but has been efficient in shootouts. Brazil looked tired after being taken to penalties by Uruguay three days ago, and Portugal dominated much of the game but wasted a number of chances. In the shootout, Lucao missed the second penalty for Brazil but Raphael Guzzo, Andre Silva and Nuno Santos all missed for Portugal, allowing captain Danilo and Gabriel Jesus to send the Brazilians through.

Heroic match

Mamadou Thiam scored in the 76th minute to send first-time qualifiers Senegal to the last four. Uzbekistan had been kept in the match by goalkeeper Dilshod Khamraev, who pulled off a series of remarkable saves before Thiam's combination with Remi Nassalan created the winning goal.

"We have prayed a lot since the beginning of the competition and particularly in the last few days," Senegal coach Joseph Koto said. "Most importantly I want to congratulate my players because they truly played a heroic match."

Serbia advanced to their maiden World Cup semifinal after a marathon shootout against the US The match needed 18 penalties to decide a victor.

Serbia held the Americans to just two shots on target in the game.

Read more on:    senegal  |  mali  |  new zealand  |  soccer

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