New Delhi [India], June 6 (ANI): The line-up for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 is now complete after African trio Morocco, Nigeria and Tanzania claimed the last three available spots.
For the Moroccans and Tanzanians, this represents a historic breakthrough as both teams qualified for this global youth showpiece for the first time in their history.
Nigeria’s Flamingoes, by contrast, have taken part in all but one of the U-17 finals’ previous six editions.
The India-bound trio ended the weekend celebrating after decisive and often dramatic second legs of their fourth-round ties, with Cameroon, Ethiopia and Ghana left to lament their near misses.
Morocco’s road to India proved to be the weekend’s biggest surprise, as Ghana – traditional powerhouses in African women’s football – surrendered a 2-0 first-leg lead in Rabat.
Fatima El Ghazouani’s 15th-minute opener set Ghanaian nerves jangling, Samya Mansaoui levelled the tie on aggregate shortly after half-time and the Moroccans went on to win 4-2 in the subsequent penalty shootout. The hosts, who had seen off Niger (18-0 agg) and Benin (3-1 agg) in the previous two rounds, duly became the first North African team to qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Elsewhere, having cruised past Congo DR (8-0 agg) and Egypt (6-0 agg), Nigeria were widely expected to make light work of Ethiopia at this decisive stage of qualifying.
Ultimately, however, 180 minutes of football produced just a single goal, with Opeyemi Ajakaye’s first-leg effort enough to take the Flamingoes back to the U-17 finals after they missed out for the first time in 2018.
Tanzania’s road to India has been brilliant. The team known as the Serengeti Girls emerged as the sensations of this qualifying campaign, becoming the first CECAFA nation to qualify for any FIFA women’s tournament.
Home-and-away victories and a 5-1 aggregate triumph over Cameroon capped a memorable run to India in which Burundi (5-2 agg) and Botswana (11-0) were also beaten.
The sharp-shooting Clara Luvanga was responsible for ten of Tanzania’s goals, establishing herself by some distance as the qualifying tournament’s leading scorer. (ANI)