By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Cameroon’s home invincibility is fast fading away as the Serengeti Girls of Tanzania edged closer to a maiden qualification after they defeated the junior Lionesses of Cameroon 4-1 in the first leg, final round qualifiers of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 tie in Yaounde on Sunday.
Forward Clara Cleitus Luvanga was on target thrice as the Tanzanite gained a massive advantage away from home in their bid for a first ever global stage experience.
But it was Diana Williams Mnally who stunned the home side when she gave the visitors the shock lead after just four minutes of play at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Bernadette Ngaseh Mbele, however leveled the score in the 21st minute to keep alive the Cameroonians’ hopes for a positive home result.
Red-hot Luvanga recovered the Tanzanite lead when she doubled the advantage six minutes later to ensure the visitors went into the tunnel with their nose in front at half time.
After the restart, Luvanga went on the score her second and third of the match to complete treble, making the baby Lionesses looked clueless in front of their own home crowd.
“It was not an easy game. I will take to opportunity to congratulate my girls, the followed the instructions very well. Our strategy was to take the lead in this first game, so as to make the match easy in the return leg in Zanzibar,” Tanzania coach Bakari Shime said during his post match press conference.
With her three goals in Yaounde, Luvanga has scored 10 goals in the qualifying series, the highest by any player in the competition even as Nigeria’s Opeyemi Ajakaiye has scored six goals of her own to ensure that Nigeria is still in pole position to qualify for India 2022 on June 4 when she meets Ethiopia at MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja for the final match. Nigeria has a one goal advantage after victory in Addis Ababa last Friday.
For Coach Stephane Ndzana of Cameroon, she will be looking to ensure her side bounce back to claim the qualification in Zanzibar when they meet in the return leg at the Amaan Stadium on June 5th.
Tanzania, who had earlier eliminated Botswana and Burundi in the qualifiers are now on the brink of making history, should they complete their qualification quest in the reverse fixture and earn one of three tickets to India in October.