At a meeting held in 2017 in Rabat, Morocco, The Confederation of African Football (CAF) made some revisions on various working groups and one of them was that the African Cup of Nations Under-17 qualifiers will be played in Zones.
Ghana was defeated on penalties by bitterest rivals Nigeria in the WAFU Zone B final, which means the two-time world champions will not be making appearance at the main tournament in Tanzania in 2019.
According to the former Ghana winger, the new format introduced by the continent’s football governing body will halt development of youth football in Africa.
“This new format of qualification from CAF is useless format. If it’s here to stay, then we must restructure because we are not helping youth football,” Preko told Happy FM.
Preko’s sentiment was echoed by Nigeria U-17 coach, Manu Garba.
The 54-year-old trainer complained about the new format even though his side took the only spot available from WAFU Zone-B. Coach Gariba speaking after beating Ghana on penalty shootouts lamented on the new format.
“I must say that this is not the best for CAF because West Africa has the best in African football, especially in youth football. Nigeria has won the World
Cup five times and Ghana has won it on three occasions.”
“It’s just unfortunate that Ghana, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire will not play in the Africa competition. CAF must change the format; I still congratulate Ghana even in defeat.”
Black Starlets coach, Abdul Karim Zito also expressed his displeasure at the new format of qualification.
“No coach who is participating in the tournament is happy with the mode of qualification for the World Cup. Now, one of the best counties in terms of talents (Cote d’Ivoire) is out of this tournament and so will not be at the World Cup. CAF opted for quantity instead of quality,” he noted.
The new qualification format sees seven teams qualifying out of six zones of qualifiers together with the host of the U-17 AFCON to play in the tournament. The four semi-finalist qualify to the World Cup.