Four berths up for grabs in Africa


With four places at Poland 2019 up for grabs, the FIFA U-20 World Cup is tantalizingly close for the eight participating sides at the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations. The continental showdown takes place in Niger and will run from 2-17 February 2019.
Mali has the potential to finally join the ranks of the victorious. Mamoutou Kane’s charges laid down a marker in the second and third qualifying rounds with aggregate victories over Tanzania (1-2, 4-1) and Cameroon (1-1, 3-0), despite the absence of several key players who had club duty in Europe.
However, for the continental final in Niger, Les Aiglons have at their disposal a similar squad to that which brought them glory at the U-17 CAN in 2017 and can also count on their forward and star man Lassana N’Diaye, currently on the books of CSKA Moscow. Also firmly in the mix are Ghana. Runners-up to Mali two years ago at U-17 level, the Black Satellites will be keen to make amends this time out, especially after missing the last U-20 finals in Zambia.
There is also a strong case to be made for Nigeria. Seven titles and 14 podium finishes speak volumes of their consistency at this age level. They have plenty of quality in their current squad too, such as striker Yahaya Nazifi, as well as the vast experience of Coach Paul Osahoun Aigbogun, who has plied his trade in Wales, the USA, South Africa and England. Tournament regulars Senegal cannot be discounted either, after finishing runners-up in the last two editions of this championship. The four semi-finalists will qualify for Poland 2019.
Group A
Niger, South Africa, Nigeria and Burundi
Group B
Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana