The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Uruguay with Nigeria’s Flamingoes missing in action for the first time in the tournament which is in sixth edition.
In February, the Nigerian team fell at the last continental qualifying stage to Cameroon, forcing 2-2 draw in Benin City and coming behind in the reverse fixture to end it 1-1. The away goal rule counted against the Nigerian girls.
Apart from Cameroon, Africa is being represented in Uruguay by Ghana and South Africa.
The Ghanaians, who open their campaign against host nation Uruguay, are the most achieving African side at the global stage. They beat Germany to third place in 2012 in Azerbaijan and were quarterfinalists in the last two editions.
Like Nigeria’s Flamingoes, the Black Maidens have participated in all previous five FIFA U17 Women’s Cups and have now beaten their Nigerian counterparts in terms of the number of times at the mundial.
South Africa, who will start their Uruguayan experience against Mexico also today, are attending the tournament for the second time. First time in 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago, the South African exited at the group stage.
Cameroon, who will start against United States on Wednesday, are making back-to-back appearance in the tournament – 2016 in Jordan being their first time. They lost at the group stage.
Korea DPR, twice winners of the competition, will aim at a record-extending third. But they first have to emerge from a group of heavyweights, which include United States and Germany.
The Americans reached the final in 2008 losing to Korea DPR, while Germany won the bronze medals in that edition hosted by New Zealand.
The Cameroonians have a tough battle ahead in this group.
Japan and Korea Republic are the other former champions in Uruguay.
The Japanese, winners in Costa Rica 2014 and runners-up in 2010 and 2016, are in the same group with South Africa and Mexico.
Korea Republic leads Group D and will face Spain (runners-up in 2014 and twice bronze medallists), Canada and Colombia.
The top two teams in each of the four groups will progress to the quarterfinals
The competition runs from November 13 to December 1.
Group A: New Zealand v Finland (8pm), Uruguay v Ghana (11pm)
Group B: Brazil v Japan (6pm), Mexico v South Africa (9pm)
Group C: United States v Cameroon (6pm), Korea DPR v Germany (9pm)
Group D: Korea Republic v Spain (8pm), Canada v Colombia (11pm)