Tough contests are expected this weekend in the African zone qualifiers as the two tickets to the forthcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup France2018 will be up for grabs in a fitting finale.
At the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Nigeria's Falconets buoyed up with a 2-0 first leg away win, host South Africa’s Basetsana whilst the Black Princesses of Ghana host Cameroon’s ‘Les Lionnes’ at the Cape Coast Stadium in a tricky encounter after they both tied 1-1 a fortnight night ago in Yaounde.
Ghana coach Yusif Basigi has admitted that the tie in Ghana’s central region against the Cameroonians is delicately poised, claiming the visitors could be a tough nut to crack based on their antecedents.
“I remember I took the Black Queens to Yaounde a few years back where we achieved 1-1 score line but they shocked us in Accra with a 2-2 score line and we were unable to qualify for the Olympics," hinted Basigi in search for a fourth U-20 World Cup qualification for the Ghanaian youngsters.
“So we’ve learned a lot from that; therefore we must work very hard and the girls are very poised for the second leg encounter and they remain confident of securing qualification.”
In Benin City, the momentum is certainly in favour of the Falconets having qualified for all previous editions of the FIFA U-20 World Cup coupled with their 2-0 first leg advantage from Polokwane. Ahead of Saturday’s encounter, the Falconets on Wednesday handed a 7-0 defeat to local side, Edo Queens in a friendly match at the same venue they incidentally humiliated Tanzania (6-0) and Morocco (5-1) in previous rounds.
Nigeria will yet again bank on free-scoring Rasheedat Ajibade who has notched up an impressive eight goals, including the opener in the 2-0 win away in the first leg.
Nevertheless, Basetsana coach Maude Khumalo is not giving up hope even as the South Africans would be attempting to record their first ever win in 12th attempt against the Falconets since the tournament was launched in 2002.
“It obviously will be difficult playing Nigeria in their own backyard,” admitted Khumalo, the former South African international.
“We are already on the back foot and playing them away won’t make things any easier however, we need to remain positive.”
The two aggregate winners after this weekend’s round of matches will represent the continent during the ninth FIFA U-20 World Cup France 2018 to be played between August 5 and 28 in the French Brittany region with venues in Vannes, Concarneau, Saint Malo and
27.01.2018 Benin Nigeria vs. South Africa (2-0)
28.01.2018 Cape Coast Ghana vs. Cameroon (1-1)