By Lexi Elo
Ghana will play Congo-Brazzaville for the right to face Nigeria’s Dream Team in the final qualifying round for this year’s African U-23 Championship. The Black Meteors drilled Liberia mercilessly for a 7-1 aggregate win in the first round and will next host the Devils, who drew a bye, before flying to Brazzaville for the return leg, later this month.
Ghana, Africa’s first medallists at the Men’s Football Tournament of the Olympics (bronze at Barcelona 1992), defeated the Liberians 2-0 in the first leg in Tamale and won the second leg (also played in Tamale because of fears of the ebola virus) 5-1.
Nigeria, Algeria, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, South Africa and Morocco (who played at the 1st African U-23 Championship in Morocco in 2011, alongside new hosts Senegal) have drawn byes into the final round of qualifying.
In the second round slated for this month, Sierra Leone (who benefitted from Guinea Bissau’s withdrawal) will play Cameroon, while Mauritania (who gained from Libya’s withdrawal) will confront Mali.
Botswana, which swept Kenya aside 3-0 in the first leg of their first round fixture, will travel to Nairobi this weekend hoping to dig their feet into the ground at the Kasarani Sports Complex.
Rwanda will play Somalia in Nairobi as well, after winning the first leg 2-0 in Kigali, as Somalia is not allowed to host matches at home in troubled Mogadishu. The winner will play Uganda later this month, and the overall winner to tackle Egypt.
The winner between Zimbabwe and Swaziland later this month will take on South Africa’s Amaglug-glug, while Morocco awaits the winner between Tunisia and Sudan. The 2nd African U-23 Championship will take place in Senegal, December 5-19.
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