African regulars Nigeria and Ghana will be joined by rookies Cameroon as the continent's representatives at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup finals in Jordan later this year.
Ghana's Black Maidens, who like Nigeria have been ever-present at the finals, secured the biggest-win of the second round as they beat Morocco 6-0 for a 10-0 aggregate victory, while Nigeria beat South Africa 1-0 to win the tie 7-0. In Egypt, Cameroon secured their first-ever participation at the finals with a 4-0 victory against the hosts, following their 2-1 win at home in the first leg.
In Accra, Ghana went five goals up in the tie as early as the third minute when Abdulai Mukarama controlled well from Adizatu Mustapha from the right flank to beat the Moroccan goalkeeper Ouhatte Hasnae. Phelicity Aduako then took advantage of poor defending by the inexperienced Moroccan defence to double her side's advantage before the break as she scored from the spot following an infringement in the box.
Coach Evans Adotey made an inspirational substitution in the second half, bringing on Abdul Rahman Barikisu, and she scored her side's first after the break. Captain Sandra Owusu Ansah, Grace Acheampong and a second from Barikisu gave Ghana an emphatic 6-0 victory. The two matches against Morocco were the first the west Africans had to play in the qualifying competition after their opponents Sierra Leone withdrew in the first round.
The Black Maidens are the only African team to have made it to the semi-final at the global event and Adotey said that he is hoping to go one better. “I'm highly impressed with our work ethics, which gave us victory and qualification to the World Cup.
“In 2012, we got bronze and the last edition we unfortunately exited at the quarter-finals. The aim at the last competition in Costa Rica was to better the performance, but unfortunately we were out in the knock-out stage. So this time around, the target is to go beyond the bronze medal.”
In Johannesburg, Nigerian striker Rasheedat Ajibade scored her fifth goal of the tie as Nigeria beat South Africa 1-0 to make sure of their ticket to Gabon. Nigeria, who beat Namibia 9-0 on aggregate in the first round, had done all the hard work in the first-leg in Abuja with a 6-0 win, as they proved too strong for the
The Nigerian captain, who scored four goals at home to add to the three goals she got against the Namibians, scored the only goal of the match in the first half, to end any hope the South Africans had of a sensational come-back.
Nigerian coach Bala Nikyu said that they were confident ahead of the match. “We wanted to book our place in Jordan and we did not underrate the South Africans. We wanted to go out and attack as we wanted to to add another victory to our win at home. We won both matches against Namibia and we set the goal to achieve that also against South Africa.”
Cameroon, who needed a penalty shoot-out in the first round to overcome Ethiopia, had a much easier match than expected in Cairo to ensure their first-ever appearance at the finals. After beating Egypt 2-1 in the first leg in Yaounde, the home fans hoped their team could turn things around in Cairo, but it was not to be as Cameroon scored four without reply to secure a 6-1 aggregate victory.
For Cameroon it was a case of third-time lucky as it was their third appearance in the qualifying competition. They came agonizingly close in 2008, when they only lost out on a place at the finals because they lost their final match in a three-group round-robin competition at home to Ghana.
They next entered the qualifiers for the 2012 finals and were against beaten by Ghana, who knocked them out 5-0 on aggregate in the first round. But there was no stopping them this time around as they qualified for Jordan, where they will be joined by the cream of the crop of women's football at the U-17 level.