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    Somalia’s first U-17 Africa Cup of Nations group is challenging.

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    Following Wednesday’s draw, Somalia was assigned to a difficult group for the forthcoming U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria later this year.

    Somalia will compete in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in Group A, alongside tournament hosts Algeria and Congo.

    Somalia qualified for Algiers after a stunning 8-7 penalty shootout victory over CECAFA regional reigning champions Uganda in the semi-final of the zonal play-offs.

    Three former U17 champions are in Group C, called the tournament’s “Group of Death” by some football commentators.

    Cameroon and Mali, both two-time champions, have been drawn alongside past winners Burkina Faso and tournament debutants South Sudan.

    Winners twice over Following the draw done by CAF Director of Competitions Khaled Nasser and African football icons Ibrahim Bekakchi of Algeria and Herita Ilunga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria will face Morocco, South Africa, and Zambia.

    The tournament will be held in the Algerian cities of Annaba, Algiers, and Constantine from April 29 to May 19.

    The four semi-finalists from the U17 AFCON will compete in the World Cup later this year.

    Allegations of overage players have long been a source of worry in African football, especially at the young level. Cameroon, the host country, was forced to remove more than 30 potential players after they failed tests set by federation boss Samuel Eto’o.

    In mid-January, Chad was thrown out of the U17 AFCON qualifiers when one of their players failed an MRI age test. Because Chad was disqualified, the Republic of the Congo was declared the winner.

    FIFA first used MRI scans for the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria in 2009.

    The U-17 Africa Cup of Nations has been held every two years since 1995. The event has become more competitive in recent years, with numerous countries fielding good teams and generating great players who go on to successful careers at the club and international levels.

    BELOW IS THE COMPLETE DRAWING

    A Groupe (Algier)

    Algeria

    Senegal

    Congo

    Somalia

    B Groupe (Constantine)

    Nigeria

    Morocco

    South Africa

    Zambia

    C Groupe (Annaba)

    Cameroon

    Mali

    Burkina Faso (Burkina Faso)

    Sudan (South Sudan)

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