- Mali join South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal in qualifying for Poland 2019
- All four nations advanced to U-20 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals
- Mali return to U-20 world finals after missing out in 2017
Mali secured their spot at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019 following a 1-0 victory over Ghana at the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations to join, South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal as Africa’s representatives at this year’s U-20 world finals.
Hadji Drame scored the decisive goal in the 53rd minute at the Stade General S. K. in Niamey, Niger to send The Eagles to their seventh FIFA U-20 World Cup. Mali’s best performances at the U-20 World Cup came in 1999 and 2015 where they finished in third place.
Mali finished in second place in Group B at the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations as Senegal continued their flawless run and ended the group stage with a 5-1 win over Burkina Faso in the other match of the day.
Mali will play Nigeria in the semi-finals on 13 February, while Senegal face a test against South Africa later that same day.
How Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa qualified
Both teams finished group play unbeaten, and both advanced on the final matchday out of Group A.
Luke Le Roux coolly converted a ninth-minute penalty for the Amajita, who held on to defeat winless Burundi 1-0. The result clinched a second consecutive world finals berth for South Africa.
It was Ibrahim Alhassan’s go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute that proved the match-winner for Nigeria, who bested hosts Niger 1-0 to move on in the tournament. The seven-time U-20 Africa Cup of Nations champions will look to add another continental trophy to their cabinet and to impress on the global stage come May.
Senegal became the first African team to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup on 6 February. The Young Lions of Teranga confirmed their place in this year’s world finals by winning back-to-back matches in Group B, defeating Ghana 2-0 at the Stade de Maradi in Niger following a 2-0 win over Mali on 3 February.
The match-winner was Youssouph Mamadou Badji, who scored a first-half brace to lead Senegal to victory and, most importantly, to world finals qualification.
Poland will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup from 23 May to 15 June 2019. At least seven games will be played at each of the six venues. The venue for the opening and final matches is Lodz. In Bielsko-Biala, Bydgoszcz, Gdynia, Lublin and Tychy there will be at least two matches each with a seeded team.
The draw is scheduled for 24 February 2019 in the Gdynia Arena. Gdynia – like Tychy, Bielsko-Biala, Bydgoszcz, Lodz and Lublin – is one of the venues of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland.
In addition to hosts Poland and CAF nations Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria, the following teams have qualified for the tournament:
AFC: Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar and Saudi Arabia
Concacaf: Honduras, Mexico, Panama and USA
OFC: New Zealand and Tahiti
UEFA: France, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Ukraine