Niger has officially taken over from Ghana as hosts of the maiden edition of the West African Football (Wafu) Zone B qualifiers for next year’s Africa Under-17 Nations Cup.
In March this year, Ghana was named to host the completion after it was moved from Cote d’Ivoire but the current uncertainty surrounding the country’s football is believed to have necessitated the latest change by the executives of Wafu Zone B.
The Wafu B edition, scheduled for September 2-15, 2018, will be the penultimate of six zonal competitions to determine the 7 countries who will join Tanzania at the 2019 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations.
Wafu A, Unaf for North Africa, UNIFFAC for Central Africa, Cecafa for East Africa, Cosafa for Southern will also organize their regional qualifiers featuring teams from the zone.
The winner of each zonal competition qualifies for the final tournament, with the exception of the zone of the previous winner, entitled to two slots. Since Mali won the title in 2017, Wafu A will qualify two teams.
Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin will converge in Niger to battle for the only ticket available to Wafu Zone B nations.
The new format is one of the key elements among the resolutions of the first ever Caf African Football Symposium in July 2017 in Morocco which received the approval of the Caf Executive Committee.
It is expected to increase participation at the level of teams in the qualifiers, enhanced exposure and competitiveness by getting all involved. Since 1995, an average of 30 teams engaged in the qualifiers, representing about 54 per cent of the Caf membership.
“The response has been great. A total of 49 Member Associations, have confirmed their participation, which is a record compared to the previous years. We will get to see teams that never participated and rarely made an impact at the youth level,” said Caf General Secretary Amr Fahmy.
“The U-17 is the nursery of our competitions and every eligible player must be given the opportunity to participate. We have been preparing for the past months in the areas of logistics, organisation and infrastructure, and I can confidently say, we are ready for the kick off,” he added.
All players selected for the tournament are to undergo mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to determine their eligibility to participate.