Ghana join Nigeria at NZ 2008

Ghana will join Nigeria in New Zealand this October after completing a remarkable revival in the African qualifiers with a decisive and dramatic 2-1 victory in Cameroon.

When Nigeria clinched their place with a game to spare last month, the Black Maidens had looked down and all but out, with two defeats in as many games having left them rooted to the foot of the table. At that stage, Cameroon led the Ghanaians by four points and also had a home match to look forward to against their struggling rivals, whom they had already beaten 2-1 in Accra.

With Ghana also facing a rematch against a Nigeria side who had claimed a comfortable 4-2 win in the sides' first meeting, their cause appeared almost hopeless. As it proved, however, the Black Maidens mounted a spectacular comeback, displaying character and determination in abundance to win both their remaining matches.

The tone was set last weekend when, with their game against Nigeria heading seemingly inexorably towards a goalless draw, Elizabeth Addo popped up in the 94th minute to head home a last-gasp winner. That kept Ghana's fate in their own hands, but with Cameroon only requiring a draw on home soil to progress, the Black Maidens remained firmly in the role of underdogs.

Abrahams Augustus' side got off to the worst possible start too, falling behind to their hosts after 26 minutes, when Enganamout Gaelle slammed home a terrific opening goal. Ghana's belief remained unshaken, however, and they drew level when Fordjour Isha profited from an ill-advised charge from goal by the Cameroonian goalkeeper to head home the equaliser.

With Gaelle increasingly influential, Cameroon's Young Lionesses went on to dominate the second half, but were unable to translate their territorial supremacy into goals against their dogged visitors. Then, when a goal did finally come five minutes from time, it was once again the Ghanaians who provided the late drama, Dadson Florence diverting home a corner to spark delirium on the Black Maidens' bench.

For the first time in this six-match triangular tournament, Ghana had hauled themselves off the bottom of the table, and the final whistle heralded joyous celebrations from their small delegation and tears for the crestfallen Cameroonians and the expectant home crowd.

The Black Maidens, whose senior counterparts have qualified for the last three successive FIFA Women's World Cups, can now look forward to appearing at the inaugural edition of FIFA's newest tournament. The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup takes place between 28 October and 16 November and while the tournament draw has already taken place, it will only be decided on 28 July what teams will fill the respective CAF and CONCACAF slots in the respective sections.

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