Nigeria’s U17 female football team kick-off the qualifying campaign for this year’s FIFA World Cup in India with a clash against DR Congo at the Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecôte in Kinshasa.
It’s the first leg of the second round of a four-stage route to India 2022 slated for October.
Nigeria, along with Ghana, qualified for the inaugural FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 in New Zealand but have made little impact. In five editions at the global stage, the Flamingos crashed out at the group stage twice (2008 and 2016, but reached the quarterfinals back-to-back in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Nigeria failed to qualify in Uruguay 2018, as they were eliminated in the African contest by Cameroon on the away-goal rule, while COVID necessitated the cancellation of the last edition in 2020.
Nigeria’s opponents, DR Congo are minnows. They have never pulled out of the continental qualification rounds.
The Flamingos have been in camp for some weeks in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, enabling Head Coach Bankole Olowookere to pick the 20 players that will challenge the Congolese.
In the squad are two goalkeepers, seven defenders, four midfielders and seven forwards.
Nigeria had wanted to host the second leg of the tie with DR Congo at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, but the continental football body turned down that request. CAF said that since the decisive second leg of the final qualifying round for Qatar FIFA World Cup between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the Black Stars of Ghana would hold about the same time, the girls should rather play elsewhere.
CAF ruled that scheduling would preserve the pitch for the all-important FIFA World Cup playoff.
The return leg is now scheduled for the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City on Saturday, 19th March, with the winner over two legs to clash with the Egyptian U17 girls, who walked over Guinea-Bissau in the second round of the African qualifying campaign.