The Gambia will play host Algeria in the final Group A matches of the 8th U-17 championship later today in Algeria.
Both sides have succeeded in booking their tickets to the semi-finals and world cup after picking maximum points following two wins in a row.
Despite recording the same points, the 2005 African champions, The Darling Scorpions, are leading group A after edging Algeria on goal difference.
Algeria, host of this year's competition who are also making their debut appearance in the competition has been also tipped as favourites on basis of home advantage. Since the inception of the Junior Championships in 1991 and the Cadet championships in 1995, the team had never had a taste of youth football. The country's absence has been a worry for the past twenty years which explains why the country has lost its place in the top brass of African football.
Today's clash will determine the group winner and runners up, who will know their next opponents in the semi finals slated for the 29 March 2009.
Two losers, Cameroon 2003 winners, and Guinea Conakry who emerged third during the 1995 edition, will also be meeting at the same time in the other Group A clash.
Cameroon failed to make an impact in the competition this year, despite being tipped with The Gambia as possible challengers for the crown.
In Group B encounters, two semi-finalists Burkina Faso and Niger will lock horns on Thursday. Burkina Faso is two-time finalist (1999, 2001) in the competition. Zimbabwe and Malawi who are automatically out of the competition following two defeats will have their last taste of the competition Thursday afternoon. Both sides have never been ranked in the first three of previous competitions.
The Gambia, Algeria, Niger and Burkina Faso will now join Nigeria, host of the FIFA U-17 World Cup from the 24 October to 15 November later this year as Africa's representatives.