Women's World Cup: Nigeria, Ghana advance to USA '99

Tournament host Nigeria and Ghana both won semifinal matches at the African Women's Soccer Championships on Oct. 27 to earn the continent's two berths to the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. Nigeria's Super Falcons defeated rival Cameroon, 6-0, while Ghana downed DR Congo, 4-1, in a match that saw the Black Queens score three goals in overtime. The Super Falcons and the Black Queens will meet in the championship game on Saturday to determine the African champion, but with the semifinal triumphs, each booked its tickets to USA '99. Nigeria's historical dominance has held to form -- the team has scored 26 goals and allowed none, as goalkeeper Ann Agumanu-Chiejinei has kept a clean sheet. Ghana, however, is looking for an upset after being the surprise of the tournament. "The Nigeria team has a similar style to Congo and Cameroon, though they are stronger and better," said Ghana coach Emmanuel Afrani. "We know how to handle them on Saturday." Nigeria won the previous two African qualifying tournaments and represented the continent in both the 1991 and 1995 Women's World Cups. This will be the first Women's World Cup to have two representatives from Africa. "In our two World Cup appearances, we did not go beyond the first round because our girls were not exposed to top competition," said Nigeria coach Paul Hamilton. "This time around we will not be caught unaware. The girls will be exposed to many test matches in Europe and America so as to ensure we surpass the previous records." With the addition of Nigeria and Ghana, 15 of the 16 berths at USA '99 have been filled. The two African qualifiers join Brazil, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, North Korea, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Russia and host USA in the tournament field. The lone remaining berth will be determined in December when CONCACAF runner-up Mexico faces South American runner-up Argentina in a two-game home-and-away series with the winner being determined on total goals.

African Women's Championship Semifinals

Oct. 27 in Kaduna Nigeria 6 Cameroon 0 Oct. 27 in Abeokuta Ghana 4 DR Congo 1 THIRD-PLACE MATCH Oct. 30 -- DR Congo vs. Cameroon. CHAMPIONSHIP Oct. 31 -- Nigeria vs. Ghana.
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