The four teams that will represent Africa in the forthcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup have emerged in the on-going U-20 AFCON in the Niger Republic.
The Flying Eagles of Nigeria were the first team to qualify after they defeated the host, Niger Republic courtesy of Ibrahim Alhassan’s 73rd minute lone strike. Having drawn goal-less with South Africa and beaten Burundi 2–0 the Flying Eagles qualified on seven points. They will be making their 12th appearance in the Youth Mundial. Their best performances came in 1989 and 2005 when they came second on both occasions.
South Africa also qualified with seven points but with an inferior goal difference after they piped Burundi 1–0. It was Luke Le Roux that scored the only goal in the 8th minute from the penalty spot. South Africa will be making its fourth World Cup appearance. Their best performance came in 2009 when they reached round 16.
In the other group, Senegal emerged tops with a maximum nine points after they brushed aside Mali, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. In a group that comprises of four West African teams, Senegal dominated with remarkable aplomb. Two second-half goals from Dion Lopy and Faly Ndaw were all they needed to beat Mali in their first match.
Senegal took on Ghana, who is the only African team to have won the FIFA U-20 World Cup, in their second match. Youssouph Mamadou Badji scored a brace to take his side’s tally after two matches to six.
Their last match was against Burkina Faso, who were the weeping boys of the group, and expectedly it ended 5–1 in favour of Senegal.
Senegal will be making their third appearance in this World Cup and will be hoping to better their fourth-place finish in the last edition.
Mail completed the African quartet with a narrow 1–0 win over Ghana after they bounced back from their opening match loss to Senegal to defeat Burkina Faso by a lone goal. They will be making their seventh World Cup appearance. Their best performances were in 1999, when Nigeria hosted and 2015. On both occasions, they finished third.
The qualifying teams will return to action on Wednesday for the semi-finals of the U-20 AFCON. Nigeria will lock horns with Mali while Senegal takes on South Africa.
By Delight Caesar
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