Africa: Under-17 championship kicks off in Rwanda
The country of Rwanda hosts the CAF African Under-17 Championship from today as eight countries fight it out not only for the continental title but also for one of the four available places in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship which takes place in Mexico this summer.
The African U-17 Championship has existed in its current form since 1995 and takes place every two years. In that time five countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Egypt and Cameroon – have all had their hands on the trophy. Ghana were the initial force to be reckoned with in the tournament winning two of the first three events in 1995 and 1999 with a win for Egypt sandwiched inbetween. Since then, bar for a maiden triumph for Cameroon in 2003, the event has been dominated by Nigeria and Gambia, both of whom have chalked up two victories apiece in the most recent five tournaments. Gambia are the defending champions having got the better of hosts Algeria in 2009 with a 3-1 victory.
The 2011 competition sees eight teams divided into two groups of four with the top two teams from each group going through to the semi-finals and, as a result, qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Championship. From then it’s a straight knock out format with the final to be played in Stade Amahoro in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali on January 22nd to decide the champions of Africa at this level. Here are the two groups ahead of the big kick-off this weekend:
GROUP A: Rwanda; Burkina Faso; Senegal; Egypt
GROUP B: Gambia; Gabon; Ivory Coast; Mali