THE world football governing body, FIFA this week released the continental qualifiers for the upcoming FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup to take place in Costa Rica from March 15-April 5 next year.
The African qualifiers for the juniors World Cup will take place in two round robin stages.
The first round of the preliminaries will be contested by eight countries between the first week of August and September.
The eight countries that will kick off the first round of qualifiers will see Botswana take on Zambia, while Morocco faces South Sudan in two gruelling rounds. Ghana will take on Congo while Equatorial Guinea face- off against Kenya for a place in the second round.
The second round will compromise of six teams – four from countries that will have participated in the first round and will be joined by powerhouses South Africa and Nigeria. Those fixtures will be played in November. The winners will represent the African continent at the Fourth Edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica next year
SAFA Acting technical director, Fran Hilton-Smith said with the fixtures drawn up, it was now time to start fine tuning the team that will take part in the qualifiers.
“Now we have an opportunity to start preparing more intensely for the qualifiers. The South Africans are scheduled to face the winner of the Zambia/Botswana encounter and we are very hopeful of going to the World Cup. Most of our players are based at the high performance centre so they are constantly training and we will be preparing for our friendlies before going into the qualifiers,” said Hilton-Smith.
Both Zambia and Botswana are strong opponents, with Zambia being the recent zone 6 champions where many of their U17 national team players participated.