Nigeria and Morocco booked their places for the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India on Saturday following positive second leg results in the final round against Ethiopia and Ghana respectively.
Before now, Nigeria had claimed a 1-0 victory over the Ethiopians in Addis Ababa thanks to Opeyemi Ajakaye’s first half strike, while Morocco suffered a 2-0 defeat to Ghana in Accra.
However, the Nigerians were held to a goalless draw by Ethiopia in Abuja to earn their qualification as the Moroccans secured a 4-2 win via penalties against the Ghanaians after overturning a two-goal deficit in Rabat to earn their first ever ticket.
At the Moshood Abiola Stadium, the Flamingos look anxious to secure a double over the Ethiopians but the visitors will have in-form goalkeeper Abeba Ajibo to thank as she kept the pouring hosts at bay for the entire duration of the encounter.
As expected, Omowumni Bello, Taiwo Afolabi, Tumininu Adeshina and Ajakaye came close on many occasions but Ajibo put up an outstanding display in goal to deny them.
On the other hand, the visitors also enjoyed their high moments, with their best chance coming before the half time break when Kumneger Kebede hit the woodwork but the hosts held on firmly to guarantee their return to the showpiece after 2018 absence.
In Rabat, the Moroccans sought to overturn a two-goal deficit from their defeat at the Accra Sports Stadium and started brightly through Fatima El Ghazouani’s 15th minute opener and missed a chance from the spot three minutes before the break.
After the restart, the North Africans resumed the contest on a high and profited from keeper Afi Amenyeku’s blunder to double their lead courtesy of Samya Mansaoui in the 47th minute.
The hosts pushed for another but keeper Amenyeku made up for her earlier blunders to keep the visitors in the mix as they dragged the game into penalties after a 2-2 aggregate score.
A 4-2 win on penalties means Morocco are through to India 2022, having broken their final round losing jinx at home and also become the first North African side to qualify for the finals.
For Ghana, it was disappointing evening as the Black Maidens will miss the U-17 Women’s World Cup for the first time, having featured in the last six editions of the competition.