Harry Awurumibe, Abuja.
Even without the host country for the 2020 FIFA Women’s World Cup determined by the world football governing body, Nigeria’s Falconets are set to take on Burkina Faso or Gambia in the first round of the African qualifiers which will begin in January with no fewer than 29 countries featuring in the preliminaries.
African giant, Nigeria has been drawn bye by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with arch-rivals Ghana and Cameroon the other countries on standby. The three nations with intimidating pedigree in Africa will join the competition in the first round instead, for the search for the continent’s representatives for the finals which will hold in September, 2020.
According to CAF fixtures, the preliminary ties will take place in January, with the first and second leg matches holding between January 17 to February 2, 2020, just as Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon have been drawn bye.
A close look at the fixtures show that Cosafa U-20 Women’s Cup champions, Tanzania will play against Uganda while Egypt takes on Morocco. CAF also got Congo pitted against Angola and Liberia meeting Guinea.
The Democratic Republic of Congo will square up with Gabon and Burkina Faso slug it out with Gambia, while Mauritania battle Guinea-Bissau and Senegal get Sierra Leone.
Also, Tanzania will engage Uganda, Burundi confront Ethiopia, and Malawi face Zimbabwe, while Namibia tackle Botswana and Zambia face South Africa in a big Cosafa regional duel.
Meanwhile, in the first round phase of the qualifiers, the winner between Egypt and Morocco will face either South Sudan or Algeria, while the victor between Gabon/DR Congo will take on Congo/Angola.
Also, the winner Liberia/Guinea tie will meet Cameroon as Nigeria get either Burkina Faso or Gambia and Ghana plays either Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau while Sierra Leone/Senegal face Tanzania/Uganda.
Malawi/Zimbabwe will seek to battle Burundi/Ethiopia, while Namibia/Botswana face Zambia/South Africa in a Cosafa affair.
The first, second and third qualifying round matches will be played in March, May and June 2020 respectively.
Only two winners from the fourth round will secure automatic qualification tickets to represent the continent at the final tournament to be organised in September 2020.
Preliminary Fixtures in full:
Tanzania vs Uganda
Egypt vs Morocco
Congo vs Angola
Liberia vs Guinea
DR Congo vs Gabon
Burkina Faso vs Gambia
Mauritania vs Guinea-Bissau
Senegal vs Sierra Leone
Tanzania vs Uganda
Burundi vs Ethiopia
Malawi vs Zimbabwe
Namibia vs Botswana
Zambia vs South Africa