African six eye Azerbaijan prize
There were no surprises as Africa’s first round of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012 came to a conclusion on Sunday, with six sides now left to fight it out for the three finals slots.
Qualifiers at the previous two world finals, Nigeria made short work of Kenya in their two-legged tie, winning 2-0 away and following up with a comfortable 3-0 victory in Abeokuta. Coach Peter Dedevbo’s Flamingoes will now face Zambia in the next round.
Inspired no doubt by the exploits of the men’s senior team, who have reached the semi-finals of the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, the young Zambians overpowered Botswana 7-1 on aggregate, four of the She-Polopo’s goals coming from Elena Mubanga.
Likewise, Ghana checked into the last four at the CAN 2012 at the weekend, and their young Maidens are also right on track for Azerbaijan 2012, easing past Cameroon 5-0 in their tie. One-nil victors away from home, the Ghanaians strolled to a 4-0 win in Accra, the star of the show being classy 14-year-old Mary Essiful.
Waiting for them in the next round are South Africa, who qualified along with Ghana for Trinidad and Tobago 2010 and should provide an altogether sterner test. Held to a 1-1 draw by Namibia in their first leg, the Bantwana made no mistake in the return, scoring five without reply.
The other first-round victors were Gambia and Tunisia, who now face off in the second and final qualifying round, the Gambians edging out Sierra Leone 4-3 and the north Africans earning a walkover after Guinea withdrew from the competition.
Neither side has reached the world finals before, which will ensure that a little history is made when the three ties are played on 9 and 25 March.