The line-up for next year's CAF Africa U-17 Cup of Nations is set with eight nations qualifying for the April 2017 event, which serves as the final step on the road to the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.
There was plenty of drama in the return legs of the third round of qualifying as late goals changed outcomes in the dying moments of the matches, as seven teams joined hosts Madagascar.
Another team that benefited from their never-give-up attitude was Guinea. Their game against Senegal had to be postponed after the designated referees experienced transport problems and as a result could only be played on Monday. Guinea won the first match 1-0 in Senegal and went into the return leg confident that they would be one of the eight teams to play in Madagascar, but a first-half goal from Cheick Ahmadou Dieng for Senegal levelled matters.
Despite pushing forward in search of an equaliser, Guinea struggled to find a way through a strong Senegalese back-line until the last minute of the match when Sekou Camara found the goal that broke Senegalese hearts, but gave Guinea a 1-1 draw, which was good enough for them to advance.
In Libreville, fans were treated to two goals in the last two minutes, but unfortunately for the home side, one of them was for the visitors Niger, who had sensationally knocked out Nigeria in the first round and travelled to Gabon defending a 1-0 first-leg lead.
Fahd Richard Moubeti gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he scored a hat-trick – including two penalties, but Ibrahim Marou found the net twice for the 2015 hosts, who even managed a third for a 3-3 draw through Hamid Ajina. The result saw the Young Menas advance 4-3 on aggregate.
Two-time world champions Ghana, made it through to the finals 3-1 on aggregate after playing to a goalless draw against Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan, with the Black Starlets' coach Paa Kwesi Fabin saying that his team had stuck to their game plan. “We saw that the Ivorians are good passers of the ball, they play the academy type of football, and we tried to contain and prevent them from scoring. Now I am just happy that we qualified,” he said.
Trio win big
The defending champions Mali had few troubles in overcoming Ethiopia 4-1 on aggregate to stay on course to retain their title. Les Aiglonnets secured a 2-1 win in Addis Ababa to add to their 2-0 first-leg win.
Any hopes the home side had of securing a big victory suffered a set-back just four minutes into the game as Sibiry Keita opened the scoring for the visitors. It then took the home side until the 72nd minute to get on the scoresheet as substitute Fasil Abebayehu found the back of the net.
As Ethiopia went forward looking for a second goal, they were caught on the break as Mali substitute Mahamane Toure put matters beyond doubt with a late goal for his side.
After the match Mali coach Jonas Komla praised his opponents. “Ethiopia were good and they gave us some problems but my boys got the much needed experience. The most important thing is that we won and qualified. We were on point in attack and defence today”.
The biggest victory of the weekend belonged to Cameroon, who secured a convincing 5-1 win against Sudan, having drawn the first leg 2-2. Moise Sakava and Stephane Zobo found the net in both halves, with Christian Bella scoring the fifth.
Shihabeldeen Alzobair managed to score a consolation goal for the visitors, who finished the match with ten men following a second booking for Mazin Mohamed in injury time.
Angola secured the biggest aggregate victory as they followed up a 5-0 first-win at home up with a 2-0 win in Moroni against Comoros, to advance 7-0 on aggregate. Melono Dala and Abilio Contreiras scored the goals for the southern Africans.