The qualifiers for the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations will for the first time be played on a zonal basis (regional), to determine the seven teams to join host Tanzania for next year's final tournament. The decision, one of the key elements among the resolutions of the first ever CAF African Football Symposium in July 2017 in Rabat (Morocco), was approved by the CAF Executive Committee.

The new format is expected to increase participation at the level of teams in the qualifiers, enhanced exposure and competitiveness by getting all involved. Since 1995, an average of 30 teams engaged in the qualifiers, representing about 54 per cent of the CAF membership.

The response has been great. A total of 49 Member Associations, have confirmed their participation, which is a record compared to the previous years. We will get to see teams that never participated and rarely made an impact at the youth level. Those teams will play at least three continental matches. said CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy.

Each of the six Zonal Unions (CECAFA, COSAFA, UNAF, UNIFFAC, WAFU A, WAFU B) will organise their regional qualifiers featuring teams from the zone.

From mid-July to September, the qualifiers will take off from Mauritius (COSAFA), through Equatorial Guinea (UNIFFAC), Tanzania (CECAFA), Tunisia (UNAF), Niger (WAFU B) before terminating in Senegal (WAFU A).

The U-17 is the nursery of our competitions and every eligible player must be given the opportunity to participate. Meanwhile, all players selected for the tournament are expected to undergo mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to determine their eligibility to participate. This zero tolerance regarding any age cheating is important to think about the future and not about short time. the General Secretary.

This follows to the decision of the Emergency Committee decision dated on the 6th of may 2018, under the leadership of the President Ahmad Ahmad, to change the article 135 to include four years ban on players and officials that will be involved in age cheating. The national team will lose the spot from the qualifiers squad list.

The winner of each zonal competition qualifies for the final tournament, with the exception of the zone of the previous winner, entitled to two slots. Since Mali won the title in 2017, WAFU A will qualify two teams.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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