The Gambia U-17 team is set to battle it
out with Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal,
Sierra Leone and defending champions Mali in the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa
U-17 Cup of Nations.
The Baby Scorpions are pooled in WAFU Zone A and will begin their qualifying campaign when it opens from September 9-18 in neighboring Senegal.
Gambia, one of four successful nations in the U-17 with two titles, will have to undergo mandatory MRI scan to determine whether players fall within the eligible age of the competition.
Coach Abdoulie Bojang is currently working with 60 players who have been invited for screening, before eventually trimming his squad to 30 ahead of the qualifiers in eight weeks’ time.
For the first time, the qualifiers for the U-17 will be played on a regional basis to determine the seven teams to join hosts Tanzania for next year’s final tournament.
A statement on CAF website stated that: “The decision, one of the key elements among the resolutions of the first ever CAF African Football Symposium in July 2017 in Rabat (Morocco), was approved by the CAF Executive Committee.”
It added that: “The new format is expected to increase participation at the level of teams in the qualifiers, enhance 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.”
Each of the six Zonal Unions (CECAFA, COSAFA, UNAF, UNIFFAC, WAFU A, WAFU B) will organize their regional qualifiers featuring teams from the zone.
UEFA, through its UEFA ASSIST programme, is supporting the qualifiers from mid-July to September and will take off from Mauritius (COSAFA), through Equatorial Guinea (UNIFFAC), Tanzania (CECAFA), Tunisia (UNAF), Senegal (WAFU A) before terminating in Niger (WAFU B).
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, two teams would qualify from WAFU A.