Ghana, Nigeria clash for U-17 World Cup slot

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh
Ghana's Ophelia Serwaa Amponsah was too hot to handle last Saturday
Ghana's Ophelia Serwaa Amponsah was too hot to handle last Saturday

This year’s FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup (WWC) will miss either Ghana or Nigeria, two of the tournament’s regular participants, as they are set to clash in the final round of Africa’s qualifiers.

The Black Maidens of Ghana and the Flamingoes of Nigeria will face off in the third round of the qualifiers after winning their second round ties emphatically over the weekend.

The Maidens have been to the tournament since its inception in 2008 and were bronze medalists in 2012, while the Flamingoes, quarter-finalists from 2008 to 2016, missed out on the 2018 tournament held in Costa Rica.

While the Maidens beat Liberia 8-0 in the second leg at the Accra Stadium last Saturday to progress on a 10-0 aggregate, having won the first leg 2-0 in Monrovia, the Falconets beat Guinea 11-2 on aggregate with a 6-1, 5-1 results in the two legs played first in Conakry and then in Lagos, respectively.

Though it is a clash that will rob Africa from presenting two of its best teams in the three slots it has at the Under-17 WWC, Black Maidens’ head coach, Baba Nuhu, says the Maidens will pick that slot from their tie.

“There is no small rivalry when it comes to Ghana and Nigeria. It is unfortunate that we have to play each other to decide who goes to the WWC, but we will prepare for that clash and ensure that we pick that slot from our tie,” Coach Nuhu told the Graphic Sports, moments after guiding his girls to wallop Liberia 8-0 at the Accra Stadium.

“We won’t be complacent or take things for granted. We know the stakes and we will work hard to make it to India in October,” he assured.

The Maidens only managed to win 2-0 in Monrovia two weeks ago but they turned on the heat and put on their free-scoring boots for the second leg, scoring six goals in the first half and added two in the second to wrap up the tie 10-0 on aggregate.

Ophelia Serwaa Amponsah scored in the first leg, scored four more goals in the second leg, with Salamatu Abdulai, Elizaeth Oppong, Alice Sarpong and Tracy Twum also scoring to deliver the emphatic victory against the Liberians who simply had no antidote to the fluid play of the Ghanaians.

The effort from Serwaa Amponsah has made her joint topscorer together with Uganda’s  Juliet Nalukenge and Tanzania’s Aisha Masaka, all with five goals.

In the other final round matches to decide which three teams will qualify for the October tournament, South Africa will play Morocco while Uganda clash with Cameroun.

The first leg of the tie will come off on the weekend of May 1-3, with the second leg being played on the weekend of May 15-17. The teams named first will host the first leg.