Senegal and Cameroon clinch World Cup playoff slot after WAFCON wins
Senegal and Camerroon qualified for the inter-continental play-offs for the World Cup next year after the former beat Tunisia 4-2 on penalties at the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Casablanca on Sunday with the latter’s narrow 1-0 victory over Botswana also enough to send them through.
The Lionesses secured the playoff spot with the victory in the post-match penalty shootouts after a scoreless stalemate in regulation time.
Senegal dominated the exchanges with striker Nguenar Ndiaye missing the first opportunity in the 10 minutes after making light work of three defenders.
Nine minutes later Ndiaye’s powerful shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly saved by the Tunisian goalkeeper Jabrani Soulaima.
The Senegalese continued to pile the pressure in the second-half but the Carthage Eagles were content with sitting back and relying on counter attacks.
With full-time looming Tunisian coach Samir Landolsi replaced goalkeeper Jabrani Soulaima with Nesrine Zizi to help in the shootout.
The substitute stopped Hapsatou Malado Diallo’s penalty but could not respond to the four kicks of Mama Diop, Mbayang Sow, Nguenar Ndiaye and Korka Fall respectively.
For Tunisia only Sabrine Elouzi and Samia Ouni scored in the penalties which led to Senegal’s qualification to the Fifa Women’s World Cup playoffs.
The excellent Ajara Njoya scored the only goal of the game in the first half and Cameroon were largely in control, but did finish the game with 10 players after a late red card.
Njoya unleashed another strike from 30-yards that took a slight deflection off a defender and nestled into the bottom corner of the net.
Botswana offered very little going forward in the first half, though they did have their fair share of the ball.
It was shaping up as a one-on-one battle between Njoya and Boseja as the former broke on the right-hand side of the box and forced another good save from the goalkeeper early in the second period.
Botswana had a rare shot at goal as Refilwe Tholakele forced a good save from Cameroon goalkeeper Ange Bawou, and from the resultant corer the latter rather flapped at the ball as it dropped onto the top of the crossbar.
Cameroon were reduced to 10 players after substitute Fadimatou Aretouyap received a straight red for a stamp with six minutes left in the contest.
Hosts Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia will play at the World Cup after they all advanced to the last four of the tourney in the North African country.
Two other African countries must join eight countries from around the world in the inter-confederation playoffs scheduled for February next year.
FIFA’s decision to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams from the 2023 edition of the Women’s World Cup resulted in more places for Africa.
The inter-confederation playoff has three more slots available for the World Cup but ten countries must fight to grab the places.
The two African countries will join Panama, Haiti, Thailand and Chinese Taipei who have already qualified for the competition to be played early next year.
The competition will be played from 18 to 23 February in New Zealand at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton and Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium.