Uruguay-bound African trio dreaming of glory

  • Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa qualify for U-17 Women's World Cup

  • Nigeria fail to qualify for first time

  • Ghana captain Mukarama Abdulai finishes top scorer in qualifying (12 goals)

The trio that will represent Africa at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018 at the end of the year has been confirmed, with Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa all sealing their places this past weekend.

For the first time in history, Nigeria will not be playing at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after Cameroon shocked the Flamingos with a 3-3 scoreline for an away-goals win.

Ghana’s journey to qualifying for Uruguay 2018 was far different than Cameroon's Lionesses. The Black Maidens cruised to 9-0 and 10-0 victories over Djibouti over two legs to ensure their place at the World Cup with a 19-0 aggregate win.

South Africa were also dominant in a 6-1 aggregate victory over Morocco to book their place at the global tournament.

The qualified trio Cameroon started their qualification journey with two strong wins over Algeria in the first round, 4-0 in Alger and 7-0 in Yaounde. It was in the second round when they were really put to the test against perennial qualifiers Nigeria. A 2-2 draw in the first leg proved vital in giving the Lionesses the momentum they needed to ultimately reach Uruguay 2018 and claim a 1-1 draw in Yaounde in the return leg. Cameroon’s Marie Ngah was Africa's second-highest scorer in the qualifying campaign with five goals. Cameroon will competing in their second U-17 Women's World Cup, after their maiden appearance in 2016.

The Black Maidens of Ghana started off with a 5-1 win over Gambia in the first round in Bakau thanks to a four-goal performance from captain Mukarama Abdulai. They followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Gambia in Cape Coast. In the second round they came up against Djibouti, which proved to be a lopsided contest, seeing the Black Maidens cruise to a 19-0 aggregate win and securing their place at a sixth-consecutive U-17 Women's World Cup. Defenders at Uruguay 2018 will need to watch out for Abdulai. The forward scored four goals in both matches against Djibouti to see her become the continent's top scorer by quite a distance (12 goals).

South Africa secured qualification to their second U-17 Women's World Cup and first since Trinidad and Tobago 2010. They started their qualification path with a 5-2 win over Botswana in Lobatse and then followed that up with a rollercoaster 6-4 victory in Johannesburg. The goals continued to flow when they defeated Morocco 5-1 in the first leg of the second round. In the return leg in Sale, Morocco, they put up a more modest 1-0 win, but most importantly Bantwana sealed their place at Uruguay 2018.

The stat 12​ - Sixteen-year-old Ghana forward and captain Mukarama Abdulai scored an astonishing 12 goals in four matches to become Africa's top scorer. The next highest goalscorer in the region was Cameroon's Marie Ngah with five.

The quote “I have joy, because looking at these girls’ faces when they scored the goal and the referee said, ‘it’s done’, they just went down and they were in tears. With everything that we’ve been through, that one goal was for us to keep dreaming. That last stop to Uruguay is where we are going. South Africa, thank you.” South Africa head coach Simphiwe Dludlu