African trio book U-17 berths
© AFP

The identities of the three CAF representatives due to appear at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 are now known, with regular attendees Ghana and Nigeria – who have never failed to advance to the prestigious event – joined by first-time qualifiers Zambia.

The Zambians will therefore make history by appearing in the competition, which runs from 15 March to 5 April. The She-polopolo certainly earned their berth, especially after recording a 3-3 draw in the home leg of their decisive second-round clash with South Africa in Lusaka.

Despite their underdog status, Albert Kachinga’s players emerged victorious from the second leg in Johannesburg, as a Grace Chanda brace and an Irene Lungu penalty overcame the Bantwana, who could only manage a solitary reply through Gabriela Salgado.

The Ghanaians and Nigerians, who will be competing at the tournament for the fourth consecutive time, completed the African line-up at Costa Rica 2014. The Black Maidens ended Equatorial Guinea’s interest in the event, triumphing 3-2 in Malabo to register a 5-2 aggregate win.

A double from striker Jane Ayieyam and a goal from Ernestina Abambilla did the damage in the second leg, after Larbi Issaka and Ayieyam had sealed a 2-0 victory in Accra for Evans Adottey’s charges.

Ghana have high expectations to live up to, after finishing third at Azerbaijan 2012. That feat was particularly impressive given their failure to advance from the group stage at the two previous U-17 Women’s World Cups.

The road to Central America proved to be significantly less strenuous for the Nigerians, who reached the quarter-finals in 2012 and 2010. South Sudan, their scheduled opponents in the second and final round, withdrew, thereby indirectly qualifying Nigeria for Costa Rica 2014.

Results

First round
Agg. score: Botswana 3-8 Zambia (first leg: 2-5, second leg: 1-3)
Morocco-South Sudan (Morocco withdrew)
Ghana-Congo (Congo withdrew)
Equatorial Guinea-Kenya (Kenya withdrew)

Second round
Agg. score: Zambia 6-4 South Africa (first leg: 3-3, second leg: 3-1)
Agg. score: Ghana 5-2 Equatorial Guinea (first leg: 2-0, second leg: 3-2)
Nigeria-South Sudan (South Sudan withdrew)