The Gambia can now start preparing itself for a maiden appearance at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan after the draw pitted the Girl Scorpions alongside France, United States of America and Korea Republic in Group B.
Preparations for the championshipentered a decisive phase with the Official Draw having been held at the International Mugam Centre in Baku on Friday 6 July. The draw was attended by Gambia's head coach and his assistant, Buba Jallow and Mariama Bom Sowe respectively.
This draw ended a nervous wait for the 16 qualified nations as they discovered the identity of their rivals in the group phase. The Opening Match pits Azerbaijan against Colombia in Baku on 22 September.
The draw itself was presided by Tatjana Haenni, FIFA's Head of Women's Competitions, and carried out by Dutch star Ronald de Boer, big name of the Dutch football, Azerbaijan coach Berti Vogts as well as two stars from the Azerbaijan U-17 women's team: Amina Heydarova and Aysun Aliyeva. Among the musical performers on the evening were Azerbaijan's Sevda Alekberzade, and Safura.
The tournament will take place between 22 September and 13 October in Baku and Lankaran. The top two finishers from each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
The Gambian success story got off to a good start in January when they won the first leg of their first tie against Sierra Leone 3-0, but a 3-1 reversal a fortnight later at Makeni in the away leg brought some questioners.
However, in the final round as hosts of Tunisia at the Box Bar Stadium in Brikama, they had the best of the chances in the first leg, but it wasn't until the introduction of Fatou Darboe that the team really came together. It was Darboe's cross that led to a penalty near the hour mark, and although Adama Tamba put the kick wide, Darboe completed the roll of heroine deep into second-half injury time with a dramatic winner.
The teams were drawn into the following groups:
Group A: Azerbaijan, Colombia, Nigeria, Canada
Group B: France, USA, Korea DPR, Gambia
Group C: Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan
Group D: Uruguay, China PR, Ghana, Germany