January 2018 is an important month in the race for places at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018, with the qualifying competitions in the CAF, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF zones all reaching their conclusions. By the time they do so, the line-up for the world finals will be complete.

The four remaining African contenders will be the first in action. Six months after the continent’s qualifiers got under way – with 17 teams in contention – Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Cameroon will fight it out in the third and final round for the two berths on offer at France 2018.

How they got here
Nigeria beat Tanzania (9-0 on aggregate) and then Morocco (6-2 on aggregate)
Ghana beat Algeria (10-0 on aggregate) and then Kenya (10-1 on aggregate)
South Africa beat Namibia (9-0 on aggregate) and then Burundi (5-2 on aggregate)
Cameroon qualified without playing after Guinea and Sierra Leone withdrew from the competition

The first legs will take place on 12 January, with the return matches being played on 26 January. The two ties each pit an U-20 Women’s World Cup regular against a side that has never qualified for the world finals in the age group, with Nigeria’s Falconets taking on the South Africans and Ghana’s Black Maidens locking horns with Cameroon.

Aside from Nigeria and Ghana, Congo DR are the only other African team ever to have graced the U-20 Women’s World Cup, a feat they achieved in 2006 and 2008. The Congolese did not enter this qualifying competition, however. The Indomitable Lionesses and Banyana Banyana are 180 minutes away from joining that very select club.