Cameroon's U20 Lionesses secured their maiden berth at the Women's World Cup qualifiers with a 1-1 draw against Egypt on Sunday, sealing a 5-3 aggregate victory in the fourth and final qualifying round.
Despite conceding a late equalizer in the return leg at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Cameroon held firm after their emphatic 4-2 win in Alexandria on January 12. This historic achievement marks the first time the Lionesses U20 have progressed beyond the preliminary rounds.
Coach Hassan Balla's young charges owe much of their triumph to 18-year-old striker Lamine Mana. The Mans FC rookie, playing in her first tournament for Cameroon, netted three goals across the two legs, including Sunday's crucial equalizer.
Cameroon joins 15 other qualifying nations for the prestigious event, including defending champions Spain and fellow African qualifiers Ghana, Morocco, and Nigeria. The tournament, expanded from 16 to 24 teams this year, kicks off in Colombia on August 31 and runs until September 22.
As per FIFA regulations, four teams each from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation of African Football (CAF), Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football (Concacaf), and South American Football Confederation (Conmebol, including hosts Colombia) will participate. Two teams from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and five from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) complete the lineup.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem