Ghana 1 Mali 2: Black Starlets lose first friendly ahead of World Cup

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The Black Starlets were defeated by Mali in a pre-U17 World Cup match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday

Ghana's preparations for the 2017 Fifa U-17 World Cup began on a slow note in Abu Dhabi after they were humbled 2-1 by Mali in an international friendly on Wednesday.

The Black Starlets were initially scheduled to travel to Denmark to fine tune ahead of the tournament but opted for the Middle East after several players were denied visas which led to the cancellation of lined up friendlies.

Ghana coach Paa Kwesi Fabin maintained seven players who featured in the final of the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations against the Young Stallions, who are also camping in Abu Dhabi, with Gideon Mensah, Mohammed Aminu, Isaac Gyamfi and Ibrahim Sadiq as the new additions.  

Mali, on the other hand, paraded eight familiar faces and after a pulsating opening session, Ghana took the lead through skipper Eric Ayiah by the 13th minute. They could have doubled the lead by the half-hour mark but an effort worked up by Aminu and Ayiah was thwarted by Mali goalkeeper.

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After the break, Fabin changed his entire team while Mali ringed five changes to their side and although, Ghana dominated play, they couldn't make it count in front of goal.

Lassana Ndiaye pulled even for Mali on 67th minute against the run of play before Hadji Drame benefited from a defensive blunder in additional time to snatch the winner for Mali.

Ghana will play United Arab Emirates over the weekend while Mali will lock horns with the USA on September 29.

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