9 October 2012

Nigeria/Ghana: Familiar Names Emerge in the 2013 Orange CAF U-20 African Championship Finals

The 12th edition of the Orange CAF U-20 African Championship to be held in Algeria in March 2013 will pit regulars at this competition against some debutant sides in a bid to wrestle the crown from reigning champions Nigeria.

Ghana, three-time winners (1993, 9999 and 2009), will be making a ninth appearance. Ghana's qualification came at a scare away to Morocco. Having lost 4-1 in Accra, the Moroccans were up by 2-0 by half time in the return leg in Rabat. They finally triumphed by 3-1, but it was insufficient to oust the Ghanaians who are up to now are the only African team to win FIFA U-20 World Cup (2009).

Egypt won the maiden edition in 1991 and then again in 2003 and will also be making their ninth appearance at the 2013 finals. The Egyptians took a slender 2-1 win to the return leg in Luanda and managed to obtain a goalless draw to progress at Angola's expense.

Defending champions Nigeria won the 2005 and 2011 championships and will be at their eighth finals, thanks to goals by midfielder, Abduljelil Ajagun, and striker, Alhaji Gero, against South Africa at home. Coach John Obuh's boys had held Amajita to a draw 1-1 draw in the first leg in South Africa.

Mali, three-time semi-finalists (1995, 2003, and 2011) will be in Algeria after ousting Zambia. After a 2-2 draw away in Kitwe, the Malians triumphed 3-0 at home in Bamako courtesy of goals by Samba Diallo (two) and a third by Tiecoro Keita.

Gabon will make their second appearance at the finals after 2005 finals during which they finished fifth. Gabon knocked out Burkina Faso and the U-20 side will been keen to emulate their U-23 team that won the inaugural U-23 African Championship last December ( 2011) and went on to make a maiden participation at the Olympic Games.

Benin made the semi-finals in 2005 and the side is back at the finals after dispatching Ivory Coast and Senegal on the way. Each time the little Squirrels met with the Elephants and the Lions, the Squirrels always made the difference at home before going to pick a draw in Abidjan (0-0) and won in Dakar (1-0). The team could pose as a tough challenger to Algeria.

DR Congo will be making their debut at the finals after claiming the scalp of last edition's finalists Cameroon in a thrilling two leg final round qualification contest. DR Congo had to overcome a 2-0 deficit from the first leg played in Cameroon. For a long time in the second leg in DR Congo it looked like Cameroon would be making the finals. Having found the net twice in the first half, the Congolese scored the third after the break to put their noses in front only for Cameroon to score in the 73 minute and on that score line it was the Young Indomitable Lions going through. On 77th minute Pierre Botayi Bamato sent the nation into delirium with a fourth goal that saw the Leopards qualify for their first ever U-20 African Championship final.

Qualified teams

Algeria (host country), Benin, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, DR Congo

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