Wednesday 23 February 2022, 20:00

World Cup in sight for WAFCON dozen

  • Eleven nations join hosts Morocco in qualifying for Women’s Africa Cup of Nations

  • Debutantes Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso and Togo join the likes of record champions Nigeria

  • WAFCON finals take place in July, with four guaranteed World Cup spots available

The line-up for the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations was confirmed today as 11 nations sealed their spots and, in the process, edged closer to a place at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™.

That continental showpiece will be made up of a collection of familiar names, led by 11-time champions Nigeria, and a few newcomers and outsiders, such as debutantes Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso and Togo.

With four guaranteed tickets to Australia and New Zealand 2023 and two intercontinental play-off berths up for grabs in Africa, and only hosts Morocco assured of their spot at the continental finals, these were high-stakes encounters for all involved.

Voulania of Cameroon during the 2022 Womens Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Cameroon and Gambia at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Yaounde, Cameroon on 18 February 2022 ©Alain Guy SuffoBackpagePix

Some, like Cameroon and Burundi, cruised through, racking up double figures over two legs against outclassed opponents. Others progressed only after a huge struggle, with Senegal needing penalties to see off Mali and qualify for their first WAFCON in a decade, and Zambia and Botswana edging out Namibia and Zimbabwe respectively on the away-goals rule.

While the Zambians just survived without star striker Barbra Banda, other key players came to the fore, with Thembi Kgatlana, Ifeoma Onumonu and Ajara Nchout all on target for South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon respectively. Mariem Houij, meanwhile, scored a hat-trick in Tunisia’s first-leg win over Equatorial Guinea as the two-time African champions were consigned to watching the 2022 edition from home.

Mariem Houij of Tunisia is congratulated for scoring a goal during the 2022 Womens Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea at the Stade de Solimane in Solimane.

Second leg scores

Djibouti 0-5 Burundi Burundi go through 11-1 on aggregate

Namibia 1-1 Zambia The tie finished 1-1 on aggregate, with Zambia winning on the away goals rule

Burkina Faso 1-0 Guinea-Bissau Burkina Faso go through 7-0 on aggregate

Mali 1-0 Senegal The tie finished 1-1 on aggregate, with Senegal winning 3-2 in a penalty shootout

Gabon 1-2 Togo Togo go through 4-2 on aggregate

Botswana 0-2 Zimbabwe The tie finished 3-3 on aggregate, with Botswana winning on the away goals rule

Algeria 1-1 South Africa South Africa go through 3-1 on aggregate

Equatorial Guinea 3-2 Tunisia Tunisia go through 7-3 on aggregate

Gambia 1-2 Cameroon Cameroon go through 10-1 on aggregate

Côte d’Ivoire 0-1 Nigeria Nigeria go through 3-0 on aggregate

Uganda also qualified after opponents Kenya withdrew ahead of the first leg

The stats

11 – Nigeria have maintained an iron grip on the WAFCON, winning 11 of the tournament’s 13 editions – including each of the last three. Equatorial Guinea, champions in 2008 and 2012, are the only other nation to lift the trophy but will not be adding to that tally of titles in 2022.

4 – A minimum of four African teams will take part in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, setting a new record high. To date, only six nations – Nigeria (8 editions), Ghana (3), Cameroon (2), Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa (all 1) – have represented the continent at the global finals.

The quote

“It gives us a lot of satisfaction to have qualified for the finals of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations, which is something we have been waiting for for 10 years. We must congratulate the girls who achieved this result in front of a great Malian team. They fought with selflessness and bravery, having in mind the desire to make history, and wrote a beautiful page for women's football.” Mame Moussa Cisse, Senegal coach

Images courtesy of Backpage/CAF