Africa's giants and comeback queens edge closer to India

  • South Africa and Uganda reverse first-leg deficits in U17WWC qualifiers

  • Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria cruise through in style

  • Three India 2021 spots to be decided between 1 and 17 May

Africa’s traditional giants flexed their muscles over the weekend as five of the six spots in the final round of FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers in the continent were decided.

Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria all ran up handsome aggregate victories, while Uganda and South Africa overturned first-leg deficits to advance to May’s decisive stage.

#U17WWC CAF qualifiers: First round, second leg results

South Africa 3-0 Zambia (3-2 agg) Cameroon 6-0 São Tomé and Príncipe (10-0 agg) Ghana 8-0 Liberia (10-0 agg) Uganda 5-0 Tanzania (6-2 agg) Nigeria 5-1 Guinea (11-2 agg)

South Africa’s victory was the most thrilling of all, as they won 3-0 to complete a seemingly unlikely comeback. Two goals down from the first leg in neighbouring Zambia, Bantwana were given hope by a 12th-minute opener from captain Jessica Wade before completing the comeback through second-half strikes from Nelly Gamede and Kananelo Taiwe.

Coach Simphiwe Dludlu praised his players for turning the tie around. "They earned this win because they played for each other," Dludlu said. “After our first leg defeat [in Lusaka], we told the players that this result was up to them. We made sure that they studied the match and saw where we had positive moments and negative moments. We had to ensure that we contained Zambia and more importantly convert our chances, which we did."

Tension levels were lower in Kampala, where Uganda reversed their 2-1 first-leg deficit with a degree of ease. The impressive Juliet Nalukenge grabbed a brace, with Margret Kunihira, Fauzia Najjemba and Grace Aluka also on target, as they put five unanswered goals past their Tanzanian visitors.

Ghana were the weekend’s biggest winners, meanwhile, racking up an 8-0 win over Liberia in which Ophelia Amponsah scored four times – all in the opening 14 minutes.

Also ending the round with a 10-0 aggregate scoreline were Cameroon. Les Lionnes U-17 finished the job against São Tomé and Príncipe with a routine 6-0 second-leg victory, with Brenda Tabe (2), Suzie Mbianji, Elise Ndome, Michaely Bihina and Larissa Luma all on target.

Nigeria also cruised through, beating Guinea 5-1 In Lagos to complete an 11-2 aggregate win. Toyin Lawal grabbed a double, with Imuran Rofiat, Alvine Dah-Zossu, Chinyere Kalu also finding the net for the on-song Flamingos.

The only tie not resolved was Morocco-Botswana, with the latter deciding not to travel due to Coronavirus concerns and no decision yet taken on how and when the fixture will be resolved.

The winner there, along with the five teams already safely through, will now play off for Africa’s three India 2021 places between 1 and 17 May. The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to take place in India between 2 and 21 November.

#U17WWC CAF qualifiers: Second round fixtures

South Africa-Morocco/Botswana Uganda-Cameroon Ghana-Nigeria