• The Defending Under-17 Champions will face West African duo Mali, Senegal and South Africa as they brace up to become first nation to win the trophy a record three times.
By Beng Emmanuel
Defending Under-17 African Cup of Nations champions Cameroon will face two-time winners Mali, 2015 runner-up South Africa and Senegal in next month’s continental youth competition in Morocco.
The draws for the newly expanded twelve-team tournament which will run from the 13th-31st of March 2021 took place Wednesday February 24, in Mauritania. CAF Director of Competitions Samson Adamu conducted the draw, assisted by Mauritania’s legend Mustapha Fall.
Cameroon was represented by the national team’s coordinator Bill Tchato who is currently in Mauritania with the Under-20 men’s national selection.
Cameroon and Congo are the only nation to qualify for the Under-17 African Cup of Nations without playing qualification games. Last week, the Confederation of African football (CAF) confirmed both nations-finalist of the 2018 Central zone qualifiers as representatives of the Central African Football Federations’ Union, (UNIFFAC).
The African regulatory football body cited the absence of a host nation and the Covid-19 pandemic among other factors responsible for the decision.
The reigning Under-17 champions are poised to retain their title despite being paired with Mali who have won back-to-back trophies in 2015 and 2017. They both share the same number of trophies with two each. South Africa are making their fourth appearance in the competition and came close to winning their first title in 2015 and previously finished fourth in 2005.
Senegal are the least decorated sides in the group. The team is only in their third participation after 2011 and 2019. They have never gone beyond the group stage in any of those editions.
Cameroon is also aiming to become the first nation to win a record third trophy since the inaugural edition in 1995. Five nations; Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon and Gambia are tied on two trophies each. Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Egypt have won the trophy only once.
The Under-17 men’s selection are currently on a short break after spending several weeks in camp. They are expected to resume training in two days before their departure for Morocco for the Under-17 Afcon.
The team has recorded an impressive six (6) wins and a draw in seven (7) warm-up games scoring an incredible 22 goals and conceding only twice.
4. Cote D’ivoire
4. South Africa