The remaining six teams to join hosts Senegal and Nigeria, who qualified Lesotho were declared losers for failing to show up for the first leg will be decided after the second leg matches of the final round.
Elimination stares in the face of the Young Pharaohs of Egypt, who must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Congo to realize their dream of making a successful defence of the title whilst Ghana’s Black Satellites and ‘Les Lionceaux’ of Cameroon will be engaged in dicey away trips against Gabon and South Africa respectively.
The Congolese, winners in 2007, are seeking to reach the finals of the biennial championship for the first time in seven years, travel for the second leg on Sunday in Alexandria with a 2-0 advantage.
The Congolese will also be seeking to avenge the painful loss of their juniors (U-17) to their Egyptian counterparts in the qualifiers for the African U-17 Championship Niger 2015 few weeks ago.
Three-time champions, Ghana also find themselves in a tight corner against Gabon in Libreville on Saturday. The Gabonese held the Black Satellites to a barren draw in Accra two weeks ago, putting the Ghanaians, the only African side to have won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009 in Egypt, in a skintight situation as far as qualification is concerned.
Sellas Tetteh, the man who guided the Satellites to the historic feat five years ago is unfazed by the Gabonese threat, recalling a similar situation in the 2009 qualifiers against Gambia. After managing a slim 2-1 win in the first leg, Ghana went on to beat Gambia 1-0 in the return leg in Banjul before going to win the ultimate at both the continental and global championship in Rwanda and Egypt respectively.
“I wasn’t surprised with the Gabonese strategy (in the first leg) because they did the same thing in their last game against Rwanda and they had it right but it will not always work for them. We will change the format and see how it goes," Tetteh said.
However, Gabon coach Rigobert Nzamba is convinced the Ghanaians have come to the end of the road after holding them at their backyard.
“We managed to defend the way we wanted and I’m happy for the result,” Nzamba noted.
Cameroon are also in danger of missing out for the successive edition against South Africa at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. South Africa coach Ephraim Mashaba is looking forward to completing his job with the Amajita on a perfect high with qualification for the African Youth Championship before beginning his job with the senior national team, Bafana Bafana for the 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Zambia are favoured to complete a double over Malawi in Lusaka whilst Cote d’Ivoire face a huge test against Libya, with the North Africans having a 2-1 advantage from the first leg.
The final tournament scheduled for 8-22 March 2015, where the semi-finalists will represent the continent at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand later next year.
30-08-2014 15H00 Zambia vs Malawi (2-1)
30-08-2014 15H00 Cote d’Ivoire vs Libya (1-2)
30-08-2014 15H30 Gabon vs Ghana (0-0)
31-08-2014 15H00 South Africa vs Cameroon (1-1)
31-08-2014 15H30 Togo vs Mali (0-2)
31-08-2014 19H00 Egypt vs Congo (0-2)
*All times are in local time