- Four teams will eventually represent Africa at the FIFA U-17 World Cup
- Two-time continental champions Nigeria did not qualify for the 2017 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations
- The tournament, initially earmarked for Madagascar, will be held in Gabon from 14 to 28 May
The competitors at this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup may not be able to vote or drive yet, but they will soon be shining on the global stage, nevertheless. The line-up at India 2017 is almost complete, with only the names of the quartet of African representatives and one spot from Europe still to be decided. In total, there are eight African countries still in the hunt for the four coveted berths, which will be determined in the latter stages of the upcoming 2017 CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
FIFA.com takes a close look at the battle to reach India 2017.
4 - the four semi-finalists at Gabon 2017 will represent CAF at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
*Host nation:* Gabon
Host cities: Libreville, Port Gentil
Dates: 14 to 28 May 2017
Eligibility criteria: All players born on or after 1 January 2000
History: 12th running of the tournament
*Group A:* Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon
Group B: Mali, Angola, Niger, Tanzania
Need to know
*Pair of pardons:* Only a few weeks ago, Gabon and Tanzania were already making holiday plans, assuming that their chance of travelling to India in October had evaporated. And then, destiny decided otherwise. CAF named Gabon as the new hosts of the U-17 Cup of Nations, replacing Madagascar, who had fallen behind in their preparations. As for the Tanzanians, they were also given a last-gasp reprieve after Congo, who had defeated them in the third qualifying round, were disqualified for allegedly falsifying a player’s age.
Strong competitors and notable absentees: There are three former continental champions in the starting blocks in Gabon: Ghana, who lifted the trophy in 1995 and 1999, Cameroon (2003), and Mali, the current title holders (2015). One major absentee is Nigeria, the five-time U-17 World Cup winners, who triumphed on the global stage as recently as 2015 in Chile, and the most successful team in the history of the U-17 Cup of Nations, with two titles (2001, 2007), two runners-up spots (1995, 2013), a third-place finish (2003) and a fourth place finish (2015). Other ex-champions who will be absent in Gabon include Gambia (2005, 2009), Côte d’Ivoire (2013), Burkina Faso (2011) and Egypt (1997).
Road to Gabon
*Group A: Before being initially eliminated by Niger and subsequently invited back in as a replacement for Madagascar, Gabon defeated Algeria. Cameroon, *meanwhile, saw off Kenya (7-0, 2-1) and then Sudan (2-4, 5-1). *Ghana overcame two former winners in the shape of Burkina Faso (5-1, 1-4) and Côte d’Ivoire (3-1, 0-0), while *Guinea **emerged victorious from tough battles with Morocco (1-1, 1-1, 3-2 on pens), and Senegal (1-0, 2-1).
Group B: Angola had a reasonably comfortable passage versus Mauritius (1-0, 3-0) and then Comoros (5-0, 2-0). Mali, who reached the U-17 World Cup final in 2015, were not troubled by Chad (9-0, withdrew) and then got the better of Ethiopia (2-0, 2-1). The side that impressed in the qualifying phase were Niger, who managed to knock out Nigeria (0-1, 3-1) before continuing their fine form against Gabon (1-0, 3-3). Finally, *Tanzania *disposed of Seychelles (3-0, 6-0) and South Africa (1-1, 2-0), prior to stumbling against Congo and later being reinstated.
*Africa at the FIFA U-17 World Cup
*- Nigeria have captured five U-17 World Cup titles, including the last two in 2013 and 2015, and have finished second on three occasions
- Ghana have twice been crowned world champions and twice earned runners-up medals
- Mali lost in the final in 2015
- Côte d’Ivoire secured third place in 1987, as did Burkina Faso in 2001
- Guinea were semi-finalists in 1985