Africa’s Big 4 reach final round of World Cup qualifiers

Africa’s Big 4 reach final round of World Cup qualifiers

Familiar trio Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have booked their places for the final round of the African qualifiers for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018.

Convincing home wins for Nigeria and South Africa was enough for them to confirm their spot at the final hurdle joining Cameroon in the battle for the two African representatives at next year’s finals.

Carrying a comfortable 2-0 lead from the first leg, Burundi were shocked by a ruthless South Africa side that returned to winning ways with a 5-0 victory in Johannesburg on Saturday to advance to the next round 5-2 on aggregate.

A brace by skipper, Linda Motlhalo and goals apiece by Lelona Daweti, Khanya Xesi and Gabriela Salgado ensured Basetsana move closer to their dream of qualifying for their first ever World Cup competition.

Debutant Xesi found the opener in the ninth minute after a well threaded ball by Motlhalo to give the host the lead.

The hosts continued piling on the pressure with the trio of Motlhalo, Daweti and Salgado terrorising the East Africans.

A good interchange of passes between Xesi and Motlhalo concluded with a fine finish from close range by Daweti to make it 2-0 on 23 minutes.

From then on, there was no coming back for Burundi who struggled to deal with the pace and pressure from their hosts.

Motlhalo’s brace made it 4-0 before the break to put the game beyond reach for the visitors before Salgado fired the final nail in the East Africans’ coffin after the break to complete the rout.

Speaking after the match, Basetsana coach, Maud Khumalo said their plan was to go for the kill but remain compact at the back to avoid conceading on the counter.

“Even though we had some of our players back, we had to remain disciplined in our attack because we knew they would want to catch us on the counter.

“We identified their strong points in the first leg and had a plan for them here at home. We are now a step closer to going to the World Cup but the final round will not be easy and we need to work extra hard to earn our place in France,” said Khumalo.

Elsewhere, South Africa’s opponent at the final round, Nigeria, overcame Morocco 5-1 in Benin City also on Saturday and progress 6-2 on aggregate.

Playmaker Rasheedat Ajibade and Nyakno Monday gave the Falconets an early two-goal lead before Fatima Tagnaout pulled one back for the visitors before the break.

Charity Reuben scored twice in the second half before Ajibade put the icing on the cake with her seventh goal of the campaign on the stroke of full time.

Ghana striker Princella Adubea was yet again at her best scoring a brace as the Princesses downed Kenya 5-1 away in Machakos near Nairobi on Sunday to complete a double and march on 10-1 on aggregate.

Adubea who scored four goals in the 5-0 win in the first leg a fortnight ago took her tally to seven in the campaign as the Ghanaians set a date with familiar foes, Cameroon.

After eight minutes, Ghana led 2-0 thanks to a brace from Olivia Anokye before Adubea made it 3-0 four minutes after the break. Substitute Ernestina Abambila scored the fourth on 76 minutes before Adubea completed her brace three minutes from time.

Rachael Otolo grabbed a consolation for the Kenyans in stoppage time.

Two teams will emerge from the African qualifiers to represent the continent at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup scheduled for 5-24 August 2018 in France.

18.11.2017 Johannesburg South Africa 5-0 Burundi (0-2)
18.11.2017 Benin City Nigeria 5-1 Morocco (1-1)
19.11.2017 Machakos Kenya 1-5 Ghana (0-5)

Third Round Fixtures
South Africa vs Nigeria
Cameroon vs Ghana

[First leg: 12-14 January 2018; Second leg: 26-28 January 2018]



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