By: Baboucarr Camara
The Gambia’s U-20 team has been drawn against Liberia in the first round stages of the 2015 African Youth Championship that will be held in neighbouring Senegal next year.
This after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) conducted the draw for the 20th edition of the championship at the weekend. The first leg game will be held on the weekend of the 4th to 6th April 2014 with the return legs scheduled three weeks later on the weekend of 25th to 27th April.
If successful in the first round tie over the two legs, the Young Scorpions will meet the winner of the tie between Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau in the second and penultimate round of qualifying for the 20th edition of the second most prestigious national team football competition in the CAF calendar.
Should Gambia also made its passage through from the second round of qualifiers that will be played in May of this year, they will face either Chad, Libya, Tunisia or Mauritania in the third and final round of qualifiers in August.
The Young Scorpions of The Gambia have twice participated in the African Youth Championship having finished third in its maiden appearance in Congo Brazzaville in 2007 and the 2011 edition in South Africa.
The Gambia also under the guidance of former international defender Peter Bonu Johnson participated in the first knockout stages of the FIFA World Youth Championship in Canada seven years ago and in order to make sure of its second appearance at the global stage, it has to be one of the four semifinalists in the Senegalese edition.
Nigeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, DR Congo, South Africa and Zambia have all been given byes to the second round. The thirteen countries will begin their qualifying campaign in May in the second round of the qualifiers.
Senegal will stage the championship between March 8 and 22 with the four top placed teams qualifying for the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Baby Scorpions face Guinea in U-17
In another development, the Baby Scorpions will also play Guinea Conakry in the first round of qualifiers for the African U-17 championship to be held in Niger next year.
The Gambia, one of the most successful countries in the competition having won it twice -together with Ghana and Nigeria- have participated on four occasions and has also featured in two World Cups in the category. After failing to enter qualification for the 2013 edition in Morocco, the Baby Scorpions will be hoping to make their return in Niger after a four-year absence.
Should Gambia progressed from the first round, it will meet Morocco in the second round and the winner over the two legs will face either Guinea Bissau, Togo or Senegal in the third and final round of qualifiers.